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A Declaration to Be Free
The Fourth of July holiday is coming! As we prepare for the traditional cookouts, fireworks, and time spent with family and friends, let’s not forget our nation’s strong legacy of courage and commitment to principled action.
As you likely remember from your history lessons, July 4, 1776 marks the day that the Continental Congress officially adopted the final version of the Declaration of Independence. Relations between the 13 colonies and Great Britain had reached a turning point after colonists became increasingly frustrated over having to pay taxes to King George III, yet having no representation in the British Parliament. "Taxation without representation!" became the rallying cry.
This landmark document was the result of weeks of meetings and revisions among some of America’s earliest leaders and thinkers – Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston. The final Declaration of Independence, of course, became a critical piece of American history. On July 4, 1777, one year after the Declaration’s signing, Independence Day was first observed in Philadelphia by adjourning Congress and celebrating with bonfires, bells, and fireworks. Congress later officially established Independence Day as a holiday in 1870.
How different things might have turned out if the colonists had chosen just to accept their situation without standing up for what they believed was right. What if they had not had the courage to pursue their convictions? Not only did our founding fathers display great bravery in their firm commitment to establishing our country, but they also left us with the lasting legacy of the Declaration of Independence – one of our most cherished articulations of what it means to be American.
“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.”
Our founding fathers ensured that their legacy was a free country where all citizens enjoy individual rights and the opportunity to pursue their dreams. As we celebrate our Independence Day, how will you make the best use of the freedoms that have been granted to you? Never underestimate the value and lasting impact of how you might be called to use your freedom.
Wherever you are this Independence Day, let’s remember what a privilege and honor it is to call ourselves Americans. Have a safe and blessed Fourth of July!
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