The Fourth of July

Please forgive a “repeat post” from July 4, 2007.  There is no time for anything new today and no post under this name will appear until mid month what with this and that.  One extra thought: When you read the Declaration today, as you surely will, note in particular the complaint about the King obstructing immigration.

I love this holiday. It celebrates incredible bravery and the recognition of not only what had become necessary, by the “course of human events” but the equally important “decent respect to the opinions of mankind” that “require[d] that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

Hence the brief essay, not only relating the policies of the Crown which so enraged the citizens of what were to become “these states,” but also what these “united states of America” were to be founded upon: “self evident” “truths” that “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.” And that when that consent no longer exists, the people are subjugated to a government that they are entitled to overthrow.

The whole “declaration” is here and is always worth reading, particularly on a day that corresponds with the one of the top of the document (which, history tells us, is misleading, but, really, who cares?). The July 4 edition of the New York Times always includes a full page, normally a main place for very expensive advertising, which instead is a photograph of the one signed and published on July 4, 1776.

Every person who signed it pledging “to each other [their] Lives, [their] Fortunes and our sacred Honor” was signing their own death warrant if the war, with victory dubious and unlikely fromt he vantage point of that day in Philadelphia, did not result in a government other than the one against which they were committing treason.

Fifteen year later (15!!!!!), when the enormous difficulties of governing so many states as a united nation required a second look at how that government should look, the Constitution was
established and, not without some difficulty, ratified, with ten amendments immediately required in order to obtain “the consent of the governed.” The story is that when the 81 year old Ben Franklin emerged from the convention which had drafted the Constitution he was aksed what sort of government they had devised to which he was said to have replied “A republic, if you can keep it.”

That question appears not have been definitively answered yet, but we can celebrate our independence just the same, with the same “firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence” that motivated the signers of the Declaration and, as President Kennedy implored us:

“With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”


One thought on “The Fourth of July

  1. Thanks for this Barth.

    This is a great country.

    There are tens of millions of Americans performing good acts every single day! Americans producing great works. Americans who sacrifice for others.

    I tried to put aside my vitriol for a weekend. hahaha

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