As I See It

This month, we celebrate the 4th of July.  Most Americans today have little idea what this holiday really means.  To most, unfortunately, it means a long weekend, picnics, good food and drink.  Little thought is given to that first conception of making a national holiday over the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

It all stared on June 7th 1776, when the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia.  Not all colonies were convinced that total independence from the king was either good or possible.  Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee proposed a motion calling for the independence of the colonies.  The debate was heated.  Battles with the king’s forces had already been in play.  This declaration was a step in a direction in which there was no return to the past.

It was decided that a committee would be set up to form the declaration.  Benjamin Franklin was Pennsylvania’s representative and also the oldest member of the congress.

It was really July 2nd 1776 that the men from the colonies voted for independence.  They put their life and prosperity on the line.  Not for political power but rather the putting of power in the hands of the individual.  The concept was that rights don’t come from king or government but were unalienable rights given not by man but the Creator of man.

“That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

America was born on the idea that government served at the will of the populace, rather than the other way around.  We have come a long way in our short history as a country.  Today, we have a corporate and political class that seems above those they govern.  The present day government sees rights coming from the government elite.  This ruling class believes that they know what is best for us.

Although the motion passed on July 2nd 1776, it was signed formally on July 4th.  It was almost a unanimous vote that day and later confirmed by all the colonies.  A great battle had begun; not just of blood and sweat but, more importantly, of ideas. – the ideas that all men should be equal under the law and government had only very limited rights.

We have forgotten our past.  I ask you to read the Declaration of Independence this holiday and think about how it relates to the struggles and divisions we are going through today in this country.  If you want a free country with equality and freedom, you should ask yourself, what is my role for the country?

Have a great and thoughtful holiday.

Graham Hetrick

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