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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
(The above is the first part of the Declaration of Independence signed on July 4, 1776; the remaining portion of the text outlined the colonies grievances with this final declaration:)
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.
The above is what the July 4th celebration, this Tuesday, is all about, the colonies declaring their independence from the British Empire. Of course declaring and being independent are two different things. The colonies had to sacrifice life, limb, and property in their fight to achieve this independence. Led by George Washington the Colonies conducted an eight year war until August 27, 1782 when the last fighting of the Revolutionary War between Americans and British occured with a skirmish in South Carolina along the Combahee River.
On January 14, 1784 - The Treaty of Paris is ratified by Congress and the Revolutionary War officially ends.
It is from these beginnings that our great nation was created. The Constitution of the United States was signed on September 17, 1787 and ratified in July of 1788. On September 25, 1789 the Bill of Rights is introduced and ratified in 1791.
Today we consider ourselves the greatest nation in the world and it is because of the Decleeration of Independence, The Constitution, and the Bill of Rights that make this nation so great.
This independence and rights are the basis by which we stand and what we believe in. This means that we have to be ever vigilant, we have to be involved with our nation, and we have to be able to stand by and fight, when necessary, to protect our rights.
Since the terrorists attacks in New York on September 11, 2001 these rights and beliefs have been questioned and some changed. We have been called upon to take a look at what is best for ourselves and nation in regards to loss of liberties and freedoms for the knowledge of freedom from future terrorists attacks. It has forced us to ask ourselves what is most important to us the loss of rights or the comfort of security from attacks.
For those who have historically enjoyed the fruits of the United States and enjoy the full benefits, the full protection that is afforded them is most welcomed.
For those who have struggled in the United States facing the problems of under representation, discrimination, and have struggled to realize the promise of the American dream the loss of even some of these freedoms is asking more than they are willing to give up.
The war in Iraq, the Patriot Act, the war on terror are causing us all to have to think about our Independence and what it means. For some of us it is a good reason to commit to our founding principals and fight for that instead of finding ways to change our basic principals and focus on what it means to be an American.
But, however you feel, this Fourth of July it will take a commitment of the people to be involved and participate within our civic government. But to stand by the sidelines, as exemplified by the last elections, it is a disgrace to all those who have fought and died for our Independence and Freedom to see us let it go to waste.