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Celebration of Independence – A Nation of Freedom

A United Declaration of Independence

…And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

These are the last words inked on parchment before being approved by 56 men in a unanimous Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The meeting of independence was convened on July 2, 1776 and for three days they debated, revised, and edited the words of the declaration to which all could unanimously agree. These 56 men represented the people of the Thirteen Colonies and was a disparate assembly of unique backgrounds, occupations, educational levels, and experience. They understood the weight of their responsibility. Though they entered the meeting single-minded they left united in their diversity and unanimously approved the declaration. During the next thirty days the delegates shared this inspired declaration with the people in their respective Colonies as well as the delegates that were absent from the initial meeting. On August 2, 1776, at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia, later to become known as Independence Hall, the 56 signatures from these great men were completed on the document we have today as the ‘Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen United States of America’.

Did all 56 delegates get everything that they wanted in the document? No. Was there compromise to reach agreement. Yes. The first words which these men penned exemplified the characteristics which brought them together “…When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind…”. The intent of these words were to define a separation of the Thirteen Colonies with Great Britain. However the very meaning of the words had been embodied through the actions of 56 men setting aside their own self interests, respecting the opinions of each other, and becoming united in the cause of humanity.

Let Us Continue the Legacy And Not Forget

I can still recall my first visit to Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA. As my tour group entered the chambers where these 56 men debated for three days there was a quiet reference. The Park Ranger shared the events which occurred during the convention of the Second Continental Congress and read quotes from personal journals of some of these men. The journal entries described uncertainty, doubts, frustration, and heavenly guidance which led the men to continue debating and to work to an agreement.

The meeting decorum of 250 years ago stands in vast contrast to the work in the Halls of Congress today. Some try to justify this difference stating our current Congress requires radical approaches to legislative processes. Regardless of the era, there is no substitution for respect, integrity, equity, empathy, listening, and acknowledgment of wrongs.

The delegates from 1776 set aside egos. They understood the greater cause. Self-interest was replaced with the “common good of the people”. Words of debate were filled with respect. Through the process of negotiating and compromise, working together rather than separately, these men penned everlasting words of the Declaration of Independence –

…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….

There were no qualifiers assigned to this statement “…all men [and women] are created equal…”. We need to institutionalize the characteristics of these words in our lives today.

We need less selfishness.
We need less bigotry.
We need less divisiveness.
We need less hate.

We need more respect.
We need more forgiveness.
We need more understanding.
We need more empathy.
We need more tolerance.
We need more gratitude.
We need more humility.
We need more integrity.
We need more unity.

Imagine the outcome of the 56 men of the 1776 Continental Congress if they acted as our 2023 U.S. Congress – it would be a very different world than what we enjoy today!

Let us not forget – Unity in our Diversity….

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