• Karen Heckman Stork

Independence Day

The United States of America just celebrated the 243rd birthday of our nation. On July 4, 1776 the Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies were no longer subject (and subordinate) to the monarch of England and were now united, free and independent states. The Congress had voted to declare independence two days earlier on July 2, but it was not declared until July 4th.

Following is the beginning of this Declaration of Independence:

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America —  When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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, --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…

Every year we celebrate the birth of our country with flags and fireworks. In today’s world of divisive politics, divergent opinions and increasing violence, it is often difficult to remember how and why this country was established. It is the responsibility of all of us, no matter what our political opinions might be, to do all we can to live up to the principles upon which this country was founded and which make the United States of America a shining light of freedom for the rest of the world to emulate.

But what can we each do individually to remind ourselves of what this country stands for — a country based on laws and institutions, not individual personalities? I would like to respectfully make one small suggestion. Every year during each Independence Day celebration in every city, village and hamlet in our country, in front of the flag and before the fireworks, let us re-read aloud this Declaration of Independence which is the basis upon which this country was founded. As we pledged after the attacks on 9/11, the same motto is appropriate for our July 4th celebration — “Let us Never Forget.”

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