Consider the Fourth of July: What Americans Ought to do on Independence Day
A Display for Freedom
Remember the Declaration
The cookouts. The fireworks. The concerts. These are but a few activities in which Americans take part on the Fourth of July in the United States. With all of this bustle, Americans often overlook the reasons for so much frivolity. The document which binds this nation together and holds it as a shining example of freedom, is the Declaration of Independence. Though it may be more than two centuries old, this record is what continues to represent the American way of life which includes reason, individualism, and capitalism. From its inception to modern times, it ought to be recognized as the prime indicator of how this country has been tested and why we need to look to the Founding Fathers to traverse the murky landscape of today’s morality.
As liberties continue to slip ever more into the crevasse of doubt and uncertainty, Americans ought to embrace the notions that the composer of the Declaration, Thomas Jefferson, advanced. Those ideals of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” typify more than just words on the page. While it ought to also include property to that list, the meaning behind these written thoughts is that each American is allowed to live his or her own life. Each individual is afforded the chance to make whatever they can with whatever they have as citizens of the first and only moral nation. Now, that does not mean that the country is perfect. In fact, that is why more than a decade after the signing of the Declaration, the preamble to the United States Constitution called for a “more perfect Union.”
When the Civil War pitted the North against the South, the conflict rested on the assertion that the Declaration clearly expounded: that all men, regardless of their race are created equal. Does this imply that all men are equal in terms of getting or job? Or that all men are equal in playing hockey? No. What the Declaration intended and why so many bloody battles ravaged the countrysides and cities is to illustrate that rights belong to the individual at birth. These rights must be respected and protected. It is up to the government to secure these rights and to uphold them against any aggressor, foreign or domestic. It means that persons, nevermind their gender or sexual orientation enjoy the bountiful offerings of this great land. With all of the travails and troubles that America faces today, it would be in even worse shape without the Declaration’s glaring dedication to the rights of the individual. Many may point to the overbearing actions of police officers or the proliferation of the burning of churches or the frequent shooting sprees or the rampant transgressions of politicians and say that America’s days are behind her and possibly numbered. Unlike the fall of Rome, the greatness of the United States of America lies in the Declaration which pronounces to the world that a country based on principles and a keen and firm understanding of human behavior would stand.
And while the Founders may have been Christians or Deists and some may have been Atheists, the fact remains that the “Creator” that is mentioned means that whatever a man or woman’s concept of creator may be, so it is. Since the country of the United States was not found on any religious doctrines, it must be said that the false assertions of Jesus of Nazareth dying on the cross for the sins of Americans is completely improper.
For the Fourth of July to have real meaning, all Americans ought to pause and recognize what immense freedoms they possess. And in between all the hamburgers, cake, watermelon, and bursting balls of light, they might stop and reflect on what made it all possible.