With the approach of this Independence Day, in spite of the many distractions and interruptions that are accompanying the lead-up to it, I’ve been thinking about how this holiday is rife with symbolism. Although many other examples exist, I’ve chosen to focus briefly on five that seem to carry special significance and meaning for me. At the same time that I’m proud of these symbols, I’m also disheartened by the seeming increase in people’s ignorance of them and what makes them important to our national and individual freedoms.
First, of course, is the document that declared our independence in the first place, the Declaration of Independence. Although many people can recite many of the phrases in the second paragraph, a lot of people don’t know what the opening paragraph and the rest of the document says, let alone understand the few phrases that they seemingly know. “We hold these truths. . . .” The truths that follow are the foundation of the rest of the document. “That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights . . . among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” This was the second time that the document mentioned God, the Author of our rights and entitlements. The document goes on to state the purpose and source of human government, which is to be a servant of the people, not their master. It also enumerates the colonists’ various grievances against the king and declares the reasons why they were declaring their independence from his rule. It would do us all good to read the entire document again carefully so that we will gain an appreciation for not only what the document means but also what the Founders risked to achieve our independence.
Take some time to reread the Declaration of Independence this Fourth of July, and remind yourself of why we’re celebrating. And then thank God that you were born and can live in a country that affords us such freedom as our forefathers gave us. And why.