Pon­ders lessons of Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence

The Covington News - - OPINION - To find out more about Jackie Gin­grich Cush­man, and read fea­tures by other Cre­ators Syn­di­cate writ­ers and car­toon­ists, visit cre­ators.com.

This week, we cel­e­brated the Fourth of July, the day that our founders de­clared their in­de­pen­dence from Great Bri­tain. This dec­la­ra­tion ac­tion came af­ter a long his­tory of im­po­si­tion by King Ge­orge III. While it might seem as though this is an­cient his­tory, there are ap­pli­ca­ble lessons to re­mem­ber to­day.

“We hold th­ese truths to be self-ev­i­dent,’’ the doc­u­ment be­gins, “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.’’

This was a fun­da­men­tal struc­tural change in the way that rights and gov­ern­ments were viewed and un­der­stood. No longer were rights held by the king, who then gave them to his sub­jects and took them from his sub­jects based on his will or his whim. In­stead, it was de­clared that rights were en­dowed by God to in­di­vid­u­als. Th­ese in­di­vid­u­als in turn loaned them to their elected of­fi­cials.

This also meant that the rights loaned to the govern­ment by the peo­ple could be taken back by the peo­ple if they were not prop­erly used by the elected of­fi­cials.

Our founders con­cluded the doc­u­ment with the pledge to each other and an in­vo­ca­tion of God. “And for the sup­port of this Dec - ance on the pro­tec­tion of di­vine Prov­i­dence, we mu­tu­ally pledge to each other our Lives, our For­tunes and our sa­cred Honor.”

The founders signed our Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence with the knowl­edge that the dec­la­ra­tion would be viewed as an act of trea­son by the king. They knew that if they were not suc­cess­ful in their fight for freedom that they were at risk of los­ing their lives.

They took this risk af­ter great de­lib­er­a­tion and with a firm un­der­stand­ing of the po­ten­tial con­se­quences. This was not a hasty de­ci­sion, but rather a thoughtful and de­lib­er­ate act. They were will­ing to risk their lives for freedom for them­selves, their fam­i­lies and this newly formed coun­try.

Pres­i­dent Abra­ham Lin­coln, when com­mem­o­rat­ing the Bat­tle at Get­tys­burg that oc­curred 150 years ago, July 1-3, con­nected the sac­ri­fice of those who died at Get­tys­burg to our Found­ing Fa­thers. While do­ing so, with only 278 words, he never used the words “I” or “me,” but fo­cused on what ac­tions could be taken by those left to honor those who had died.

“Four score and seven years ago, our fa­thers brought forth on this con­ti­nent a new na­tion, con­ceived in lib­erty and ded­i­cated to the propo­si­tion that all men are cre­ated equal. ... It is rather for us to be here ded­i­cated to the great task re­main­ing be­fore us — that from th­ese hon­ored dead we take in­creased de­vo­tion to that cause for which they gave the last full mea­sure of de­vo­tion — that we here highly re­solve that th­ese dead shall not have died in vain, that this na­tion un­der God shall have a new birth of freedom and that govern­ment of the peo­ple, by the peo­ple, for the peo­ple shall not per­ish from the earth.”

Our Found­ing Fa­thers risked their lives to de­clare freedom; hun­dreds of thou­sands of Amer­i­cans died dur­ing our Civil War to keep our na­tion to­gether. They gave the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice, their lives, for our freedom, as have our soldiers through­out our his­tory.

This week, as we watch fire­works, and eat hot dogs, ham­burg­ers and/or ribs, we should pause and re­flect on those who have sac­ri­ficed for our freedom and lib­erty. We should re­solve once more to do our part, to en­sure “that th­ese dead shall not have died in vain, that this na­tion un­der God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that govern­ment of the peo­ple, by the peo­ple, for the peo­ple shall not per­ish from the earth.”

It’s not just red, white and blue — but also red, white and you.


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