7/18/2011

They "Declared" Independence

I wonder sometimes how many Americans understand why we celebrate "the fourth of July". According to at least one reputable poll, almost a quarter of Americans do not even know what country we declared independence from. I would guess that even less understand the significance of this particular day. Well let me tell you.

Today is not the day our nation won independence. Today is the day we declared it, when several brave men risked their lives to sign a document called the Declaration of Independence. You often hear commentators use the term "our founding documents". Well actually there are no founding documents. There is only one. The Declaration is the founding document.

And what about that Declaration? Some today, like Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, want to diminish the importance of this document. That is either a huge mistake, or the purposeful act of a statist. You see, the Declaration of Independence should be considered equal to the Constitution. The ideals put forth in the Declaration, are why this nation exists and why it was formed the way it was. The Declaration is a radical document, because it recognized the fact that our rights come from God, not man, and that if a government violates those rights then the people have the right to disconnect from that government.

Slavery was obviously a black eye on America's founding. That can not be denied. However, it was the language of the Declaration that held this nation accountable to the values and ideals expressed in it. Sure there would have been an abolition movement without the Declaration, as there was in Europe. But in America, the abolition movement continually referred to the Declaration. The Declaration, in fact, laid the foundation for that movement. Lincoln referenced it quite often.

The Declaration is everything, and it should be taught as equal to the Constitution. The belief that all men are equal, and that our rights come from God, not governments, is central to understanding why this country exists. If you do not understand those things, then you can not understand this experiment called America.

No, July 4th is not the day we won independence. Independence Day, or the fourth of July, is the day we declared it, the day we told King George that our rights do not come from him, but from Him. Perhaps today's "rulers" have forgotten this. May they be reminded.

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