America’s Declaration of Independence celebrates its 240th birthday on Monday, a day when our forefathers risked death for treason when the Continental Congress declared the 13 colonies as independent states free of the tyrannical British rule.
Since that day in Philadelphia when 56 signers put their signatures on a piece of paper, the Declaration of Independence has withstood the test of time from when this nation eventually earned its freedom from Britain in the 1780s and began to forge a new beginning to the War of 1812, when bitterness between the United States and Great Britain resurrected itself, to the American Civil War, which almost split the United States into two separate countries. Other documents, particularly the Constitution, strengthened the Declaration’s message.
The principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence became a model for other countries ruled by a king or queen, most notably France and other countries — especially those in Central and South American fighting for independence against Spain in the 1820s. Their people and leaders defied the tight grip of government and followed a similar cry for independence as displayed in the U.S. document.
The resolve of the United States faced numerous challenges in the 20th century, especially with two devastating and costly world wars, Korea and Vietnam, and most recently in the 21st century with Iraq and Afghanistan.
Other countries or people have used the document for their rallying cries to seek independence from a brutal dictatorship or regime that limits human rights and other freedoms associated with the press, religion and human dignity.
With that said, though, our forefathers may not recognize the country of 1776 in its 240-year evolution from that day to 2016.
An emerging country that prided itself in ingenuity, hard work and small government has changed tremendously. While Americans are still some of the hardest working people on the planet and ingenuity makes lives better, the government’s overreach from eavesdropping on its own citizens to thousands of residents receiving government hand-out programs to a massive $16 trillion debt may not be what Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin envisioned.
As we look forward to celebrating Thursday with a local parade, family picnic and activities at the fairgrounds and fireworks near Rattlesnake Raceway, we should never lose sight what patriots did to rid the colonies of overtaxation, unreasonable search and seizure and unworthy requests mandated from the King and his henchmen who performed their own methods of close surveillance on the colonists, fearful the people of this new land could rise up and demand their independence … which they did.
Enjoy the Fourth of July but take time out to understand the symbolism this country presents around the world and what sacrifices have been made for this country to survive 237 years. Reading both the Declaration and Constitution is a start to reconnect present issues with past guidelines.
This editorial first appeared in 2013. Happy birthday USA.