By Mayor Dave Harrington
The Fourth of July, Independence Day or July 4, no matter how you refer to it, this is the day we celebrate our declaration from a tyrannical form of government to a government of, by and for the people. John Adams wrote, “… It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shews, games, sport, guns, bells, bonfires and illumination from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.” How we celebrate is less important than why we celebrate. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good barbeque and fireworks show. I love hanging out with friends and family; however, I also like to reflect on how we became independent and the sacrifices made to secure the freedoms we hold so dear.
The inspiration shown by our founders started before the drafting of the Declaration. Patrick Henry, in an address to St. Johns Church in Richmond, Virginia on March 23, 1775, spoke of freedom, patriotism and the need to take action to secure those sentiments. His famous line, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death” might be the best-known quote from Henry, but by reading the speech, you can grasp the extent of tyranny they were suffering at the time. In the Declaration of Independence, the founders spoke of the right to abolish governments, not for “light and transient” reasons, but rather when people are suffering “absolute despotism.” The Declaration contains a list of grievances which would become the foundation of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. It contained the recognition of attempts made to redress these grievances prior to taking the stand for independence. What an inspirational time in history when these founders signed their name on the parchment, not knowing what it would lead to but willing to sacrifice their wealth, and in some cases their lives, for the ideals contained on it. I think those founders would be amazed at the inspiration their words provide to us today and how the nation they founded has grown and provided opportunity for so many.
The Constitution, “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.” We should encourage everyone to read these words again, study what the founders of this great country wrote in forming our system of governance and get a little inspiration. Today, we are hard-pressed to have a leader with the ability to articulate the power of freedom and of individuals to do the right thing when left to their own devices, without the tyranny of government.
Nowhere else in history have so few sacrificed so much for so many than the United States of America – from the war for independence to the Civil War, WWI, WWII to the War on Terror. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our ability to pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. Hope you had a safe and happy fourth!