Today is July 4th. America’s Independence Day. The day in 1776 our Founding Fathers executed the Declaration of Independence and birthed a nation determined to free itself from tyranny, injustice, and oppression.
We came out of the box fighting, an infant country stretching itself from the moment of its birth. America was born from a desire to venture away from the methods, practices, teachings, and strictures of its parent country. Not particularly different from a child who grows to spread his or her wings and stand alone, separate from parents, individual in all of youth’s glory.
Most of our ancestors came to America from every other continent on this Earth, looking for an opportunity to stand on their own two feet, to prove themselves, to find their way, to EARN what they believed they deserved. And they did. And they were GRATEFUL for the chance.
There are some who were forced to come here, trapped under the mantle of slavery and oppression. We Americans are not perfect. When we were a young nation, we often imitated our parent nations and continued the cycle of oppression, stealing land from the American Indians, sending Africans into bondage to do our chores. There is still anger over this. However, by continuing to feed the vicious flames of hatred and evil, we remain no better than those who did the original oppressing.
As we grew as a nation, we became unruly teenagers, convinced we were ENTITLED to everything. And our parent, our government, bowed down before us and said, “Yes. You’ve been good children. We will mandate programs to take care of you so you don’t have to do anything for yourself.” And we kicked back to embrace our slacker attitude.
In our slackerness, we forgot what was important. In our entitlement, we demanded all, everything, NOW. We wanted stores open on what used to be respected holidays because God forbid we couldn’t go shopping. So corporate America complied. We wanted fireworks not because they were a means of recognizing the birth of our nation but because they make for a fun party. And it’s all about the party, isn’t it? It’s all about the fun?
We wanted to disregard those things that shaped, defined, and made us. So we did. In the process, we gave away some of our independence.
And we grew more as a Nation. And we became the parent. And we took on the role of defending, protecting, reprimanding, and punishing other nations. And we lost our individual children. Or they came home to us, changed, broken. In our grief, more independence was lost as we turned to our government and said, “Fix this,” instead of fixing it ourselves.
Our independence went on life support. We CAN bring it back — if we remember why our Nation was born.
Independence Day is not about parades or fireworks or BBQ or shopping. It is about creating, refining, and defending our Rights. It’s about remembering our heroes — the brave men and women who fought to give us our Nation’s freedom in 1776, and who fight to defend freedom around the world today. Like all children, we want to break away from our Founding Fathers. We want to do things differently. But as most adults will tell you — we eventually reach an age where we realize there were things our parents got right and those things are worth emulating.
Those things are spelled out in the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the United State Constitution. We would do well to remember them, protect them, and defend them. I’m exercising the first of them with this post.
Bill of Rights:
- Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
- A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
- No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
- The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
- No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
- In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
- In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
- Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
- The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
- The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.