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Editorial: Remember the message in the Declaration of Independence

Last Modified: Wednesday, July 03, 2013 6:44 PM

All Americans should celebrate the 237th anniversary of our nation’s independence today, July 4. We should also remember the message carried in the Declaration of Independence, the “mission statement” of our nation.

The inspired words of the Declaration gave resolve to the patriots who were then engaged in a life-or-death struggle with the British Empire. Among the most inspiring of the words are, “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. 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 abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying the foundation on such principles and organizing the powers in such form, as to them shall seem likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

The truths outlined in the Declaration are just as valid today as they were then. Every American should take them to heart, and work to make our present government a more perfect reflection of this inspiring document.

Written primarily by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration was adopted by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. Nearly all of the delegates of the 13 states, former colonies, had signed it by Aug. 2, 1776. A few signed it later, and two never signed it at all.

However, with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, there was no turning back. As Thomas Paine wrote at the time: “The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of Nature cries, ’Tis time to part.’ ”

The Declaration also set out the case against King George III. Jefferson said, “The king has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed our people.” The last straw for the Americans was when George III hired 20,000 Hessian mercenaries to put down the revolt.

It took extraordinary courage for the signers of the Declaration to put their names on a document that could become a death warrant if the cause was lost. But they were willing to risk their lives, their fortunes and sacred honor for the freedom and independence of their new nation.

Americans today should remember what the Declaration of Independence means, as well as the sacrifice made by many patriots to secure that freedom and independence then and up to the present day.

Have a glorious and happy Independence Day.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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