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US Declaration of Independence

Updated on July 2, 2011

Listening to the Founding Fathers

On this 4th of July 2010, it would behoove all of us to to give thanks to our founding fathers and to reflect on the Declaration of Independence. Every year we celebrate this historic date but what do people really think of when they celebrate the 4th of July?

When I was growing up, it was just a day where we got to see fireworks, have a barbecue, and see a parade. (And I grew up near Boston!)  To some it is just a day off from work or a good time to have friends over for some steaks on BBQ or set off Fireworks.

As I get older and leaned more about how this country was founded and about the sacrifice of those who chose to declare independence and fight for it, I'm forced into a more serious reflection about the meaning of this holiday. How many Americans really know why this country was founded? These men who wrote this document sacrificed everything to declare independence.  Do people really appreciate who these men were and what they had in mind when they made this sacrifice?

This document though not law is preeminent in the country's founding because it serves as the genesis of what America is about. As it is the founding document of US, consider what it contained.  In less than 1400 words, this document not only explained why we wanted independence but established the foundation for why we are a country as well as the basis upon which we are built. It is the bedrock upon which the constitution sits.

Take the first 2 sentences of the 2nd paragraph, '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.'

In less than 60 words, Jefferson et al, state a powerful yet simple truth with great clarity.  Simply paraphrased it was this; that the rights of mankind are given to us as a gift from God our Creator. That governments borrow these rights through the consent of the governed to defend these rights.. That is where it ends. It does not say that we are governed to institute fairness or equality of result. It is very simple and quite plain, the people lend power to governments not to institute some Utopian form of social justice but to secure the rights given to us by our Creator.

I believe that providence smiled upon these brave men as they wrote this text. It took Jefferson about a month to write it. Adams, Franklin et al a couple days to edit then present it to the constitutional convention. In the end, each word is carefully written. We as Americans should study and know this document inside and out, not only in what is says and what it means but what is absent from the document.

These men understood mankind. They understood freedom and the natural inclinations of man to try and control others. This was as true back then as it is now. In a world where not all agree that all men are created equal or that liberty is a right, it is important to use this founding document to remind all of us what is worth protecting and the real purpose of governments.

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