My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Thoughts On Independence Day

On the way home from church today my 8-year old asked why July 4th was a holiday.

My first reaction was a rather verbose answer all about the Declaration of Independence, the rights of the governed, war, courage, and other things that made my poor daughter's eyes glaze over. This sad tendency of mine is why my wife "encouraged" me a couple years ago to stop talking to her about politics and start writing.

The short answer, arrived at after seeing the blank stares of my family, is that July 4th was that day the Americans declared themselves free of British rule and free to rule their own destiny.

Of course, that's not the whole story. In so doing, Thomas Jefferson codified revolutionary thought: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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,. . ." He expressed the uniquely American character of government: "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." And, of course, he started a war.

Let me restate that: he started a war. The Declaration of Independence, which signing we celebrate today as the unique American Holiday, was a declaration of war.

I think, too often, we forget exactly what this day means. That the founding fathers of this nation saw their own rights of self-governance as so important to their existence that they were willing to pledge "their Lives, their Fortunes and [their] sacred Honor" is a lesson that would well be studied more today. These men thought freedom an important enough principle that they were willing to put themselves, their homes and towns, and their wives and children in the crosshairs of the Royal British Army--and they paid for that principle with many lives.

Would we have the same courage today? Would we have the same faith in "divine Provenance?" And if we did, would we be allowed to invoke it?

I regret that schools are not in session around the Fourth of July--it deserves the sort of academic treatment that Martin Luther King gets in February.

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