Thursday, July 1, 2010

Independence Day

"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."

Apollo 14 image from Wikimedia Commons 

These days not everyone remembers that when the Declaration of Independence was made in 1776 the Colonies had been at war with England since April 19th the previous year, that the vote to declare independence had been taken on July 2nd, or that the document itself wasn't signed until August 2nd. And it is important to remember that the 13th Amendment - which abolished slavery in America - was not ratified until 1865, that the 15th Amendment - which granted black men the right to vote - was not ratified until 1870, and that the 19th Amendment - which finally recognized an American woman's right to vote - was enacted only in 1920. As with many great undertakings perhaps the ideal is easier to express than it is to attain.
For many of us terms like freedom, liberty, or independence are simply words we have come to take for granted. But many Americans have paid a heavy price creating this country, defending it, and insisting it be as great as it can be. This weekend we'll gather with friends, family, and community to celebrate the founding of this great nation.  As we do let's pause to remember that there are men and women, around the world and at home, at war and at peace, building and rebuilding families and communities despite hardships we can scarcely imagine, doing their level best to make sure "America" means everything it should.