Celebrating the Declaration of Independence

Words are powerful.

We have learned this throughout our lives. And most of us have been on both sides of the situation. Ever have a time when you wished you had kept your mouth shut? Or have you regretted NOT saying something that needed to be stated, whether it was a kind word someone needed to hear, or a courageous statement? Then there are also the times we have been on the receiving end of hurtful words or words of encouragement at just the right time.

Words are powerful.

This week we celebrate words which are fundamentally American. Independence Day is the day we celebrate the birth of our nation. The act behind this day is an inspiration every time I give it the thought it deserves. July Fourth is not the date we won the American Revolution. July Fourth is not the day we fired the first shot against the British soldiers occupying the 13 colonies.

The Fourth of July is the day where words were approved by the Continental Congress. The words, written by Thomas Jefferson, were labored over by The Committee of Five who had been appointed to draft a document explaining the philosophy behind and the reasons for rejecting British rule. 86 changes were made to Jefferson’s original text by Ben Franklin and John Adams. When the text was ready for a vote, it included principles which have become part of our DNA. Those words have shaped who we are and what we believe:

“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 along these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

This concept was groundbreaking. Individual freedom was only for the aristocracy, and then only if it pleased the crown.

We declared ourselves free. And four days after that vote on July Fourth, the Declaration of Independence was read aloud for the first time at the Pennsylvania State House.

Over 200 years later, we remember those words – the power they held, and the power they still hold.