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.
The Fourth of July is our nation’s greatest holiday. It is the day the Continental Congress adopted the final draft of the Declaration of Independence claiming our country free from the tyrannical rule of Great Britain’s King George III.
Our courageous founding fathers risked a lot when they declared their intentions to seek independence from the rule of the King. Their act of defiance was considered treason—a crime punishable by death. On June 11, 1776, fed up by Britain’s oppressive rule—especially the taxing of colonists without representation—and after a bloody year of revolting, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston met to appoint a committee to draft the Declaration. These men spoke for many colonists in the spirit of Patrick Henry’s March 23, 1775 speech in which he declared, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know now what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” This year on July 4, 2014, I cannot think of anything more patriotic than celebrating not only my personal freedoms, but also the freedoms my country grants every American and me. Since those early days, 250 years ago when our founding fathers set about defining what America meant, it has been our tradition to stand and fight for liberty and freedom. To this day, it is a fight we as individuals and we, as a collective society, continue to fight.
Today, we are free to
- Assemble at parks, lakes and backyards as we enjoy the fellowship of friends and family and oh and ah over grand firework displays
- Discuss our displeasure over recent laws and regulations over a cold one without the fear of being hung
- Pray to whom ever God we want before enjoying our juicy hamburgers and hotdogs fresh off the grill
- Carry and shoot firearms at gun ranges, private property, in businesses, at lakes and parks and in our vehicles without fear of an unwarranted raid, search and seizure
Merriam-Webster defines freedom as: A: The absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action. B: Liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another On this day, July 4, 1776, Congress approved the final draft of the Declaration of Independence and in it, speaking for all Americans defined our freedom:
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. 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.
John Adams, one of the 56 revolutionary signers of the Declaration of Independence in a letter to his wife wrote, “The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.” As you celebrate Independence Day today, I am asking you to take a moment and remember our founding fathers plight to allowing us the freedom to participate in any festivities you choose. I am asking you to remember that many of us are still fighting against infringements on our God-given, inalienable rights. I am asking you to take a moment and reflect on what freedom and liberty means to you. What or what would make us a truly free nation? What makes you truly free? What declaration would you be willing to sign your name to?
This is American’s day. Make it truly epoch.