Does it mean fireworks or barbecues? What about parades and flags? Picnics and Apple pie? Ball games, time with family, or the television?
My view is a little different although it may include some or all of the above, that is not what it is about.
I celebrate the Founders of our nation, the Declaration of Independence, and above all the thoughts contained therein.
I celebrate the sovereignty of the individual. The right of agency that I am able to choose whether to do good or to do evil. I know that each of us has that same right and that it comes from our Divine Creator and not from government, the Constitution, or the Declaration of Independence. Free men institute governments to protect their rights, not to control them.
We are at a point in our history that we are losing those rights and freedoms that our Founders spoke so highly of, and eventually fought and some died for. In church this past Sunday, one of our lay members spoke about needing to stand up, step forward, and speak out in defense of our rights and liberty. In 1852, Frederick Douglass said the following about our founders:
“Feeling themselves harshly and unjustly treated, by the home government, your fathers, like men of honesty, and men of spirit, earnestly sought redress. They petitioned and remonstrated; they did so in a decorous, respectful, and loyal manner. Their conduct was wholly unexceptionable. This, however, did not answer the purpose. They saw themselves treated with sovereign indifference, coldness and scorn. Yet they persevered. They were not the men to look back. …
They loved their country better than their own private interests; and, though this is not the highest form of human excellence, all will concede that it is a rare virtue, and that when it is exhibited it ought to command respect. He who will, intelligently, lay down his life for his country is a man whom it is not in human nature to despise. Your fathers staked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, on the cause of their country. In their admiration of liberty, they lost sight of all other interests.
They were peace men; but they preferred revolution to peaceful submission to bondage. They were quiet men; but they did not shrink from agitating against oppression. They showed forbearance; but that they knew its limits. They believed in order; but not in the order of tyranny. With them, nothing was "settled" that was not right. With them, justice, liberty and humanity were "final"; not slavery and oppression. You may well cherish the memory of such men. They were great in their day and generation. Their solid manhood stands out the more as we contrast it with these degenerate times.
How circumspect, exact and proportionate were all their movements! How unlike the politicians of an hour! Their statesmanship looked beyond the passing moment, and stretched away in strength into the distant future. They seized upon eternal principles, and set a glorious example in their defence. Mark them! Fully appreciating the hardships to be encountered, firmly believing in the right of their cause, honorably inviting the scrutiny of an on-looking world, reverently appealing to heaven to attest their sincerity, soundly comprehending the solemn responsibility they were about to assume, wisely measuring the terrible odds against them, your fathers, the fathers of this republic, did, most deliberately, under the inspiration of a glorious patriotism, and with a sublime faith in the great principles of justice and freedom, lay deep, the corner-stone of the national super-structure, which has risen and still rises in grandeur around you. ”
I ask you to spend a few minutes this day and during the weeks and months ahead to reflect on the Declaration of Independence and in those eternal principles that are spoken of therein. I encourage you to find a way to Stand Up!, Step Forward!, and Speak Out!
If not you then who? Would you willingly entrust your life to one of our politicians today? By doing nothing, that is exactly what we are doing.
Stand Up for what is right!
Step Forward and volunteer, run for office, do something!
Speak Out in defense of your rights!
My brother in law reminded me of a very well known quote from Thomas Paine:
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value."
Please, if you do nothing else, read the Declaration of Independence and reflect on its words, especially the last two paragraphs.