AC Gaughen: Let Freedom Ring
July 04, 2012 at 12:04AM
I LOVE the Fourth of July. Not as a party day–let’s face it, I’m a little lame in the party department. But as a holiday. As a celebration–as more than that, as an ACTION.
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 requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
I admit, that sentence doesn’t exactly scream “badassery”. I understand that. To most people, the Fourth is a kind of brainy holiday–these stuffy old men, without guns or the kind of fire that lays in the hearts of revolutionaries, signed a giant piece of paper and told a dude back in Ye Olde Country to shove it. I get that–there’s no passion, no connection.
Let’s set aside the fact that I think Thomas Jefferson veers on the side of sexy and I teared up a bit (coughweptcough) when I saw his books–HIS ACTUAL BOOKS–in the Library of Congress. Let’s set aside the fact that I think these men showed wisdom and philosophy that we continue to learn from today.
They were not the revolution, and the Declaration, while AWESOME, is not what we celebrate today.
Yes, I get a little chill when I think of how, in Boston, they read the Declaration of Independence at 10AM from the balcony of the old State House every Fourth–just as it was read when it was first trotted around to the colonies.
But more than that, walking the Freedom Trail in Boston (a red line painted on the sidewalk that leads you to many revolutionary-related sites in Boston), you see the church where the Sons of Liberty met. You see Paul Revere’s house. You see where his children played, and every time I look at it, it reminds me–the revolution was not about incomparable thinkers. Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin could have up and went to France if things went south. They were never in peril.
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.
The American Revolution is about men like Sam Adams and Paul Revere, men who gathered covertly, risked their modest livelihoods and put their families in unthinkable danger to fight for something greater. To fight for fairness and equality and their children’s futures.
Men who had to wait to see the whites of their eyes before they fired, because they had to make every shot count.
They were brave and honorable and incredibly passionate. They knew there was no looking back.
And the well-educated wigged dudes at the top stood behind them.
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.
Acts like the Declaration of Independence change the course of human events. But it never would have existed without a man in Boston who was angry–angry that his home was being occupied, that his money was being stolen, that his freedoms were being taken away. Angry that the land he had been promised had failed to appear.
If that’s all you take away from the Fourth, so be it. Everyone has the power to change the fate of nations based on what matters to them. Don’t let anyone steal that from you, because that is the true meaning of freedom.