Wave the flag of freedom, responsibility

Independence Day might well be called Responsibility Day to remind us we can't have one without the other.

As we celebrate today this country's grand experiment with a self-governance incomparable with any that has come before it, take time to remember the Bill of Rights that protects who we are and what we will become. Ponder, too, what we must do to preserve those rights.

Amendment 1 -- Freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and the right to petition government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment 2 -- The right of the people to keep and bear arms.

Amendment 3 -- No soldiers may be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner during times of peace, nor during times of war except in a manner prescribed in law.

Amendment 4 -- The right of the people against unreasonable searches and seizures. No warrant shall issue, but upon probable cause.

Amendment 5 -- No one can be charged twice for the same crime, be forced to testify against himself or be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. Private property may not be taken for public use without just compensation.

Amendment 6 -- People accused of crimes have rights to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury in the state where the crime was committed. They must be told the crime of which they're accused, confronted by the witnesses against them and have assistance of counsel for their defense.

Amendment 7 -- Lawsuits in civil cases may also be decided by a jury, and no fact tried by a jury can be otherwise re-examined in any court.

Amendment 8 -- No excessive bail, no excessive fines and no cruel and unusual punishment.

Amendment 9 -- The enumeration of these rights does not deny nor disparage other rights of the people.

Amendment 10 -- Powers not delegated to the federal government by the U.S. Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states or to the people.

The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, with these words: "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 ...."

Perhaps not as well known is the vow made at the end by its signers. "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."


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