It was 238 years ago that the American Continental Congress prepared a declaration dissolving the American colonies’ political ties to Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence set forth a reasoned, measured statement of the colonists’ grievances with the Crown, and set forth the reasons, out of “a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind.”
This rational, thoughtful approach made the American Revolution different from so many others political upheavals that overthrow one form of tyranny only to adopt another just as bad.
That, perhaps, is the greatest debt we owe our Founding Fathers. They had the courage and solidarity to declare independence and fight for it, but also the vision of a free and democratic form of government, one that respected the liberties and rights of the people. They took their time, working together to write the Constitution of the United States, signed in September 1787 and adopted nine months later.
But it all started on July 4, 1776, when assembled delegates of the 13 colonies stood together and declared “That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States.”
That is why we ring bells, fly flags, shoot off fireworks and celebrate each year on this day.
It is our birthday. Let us rejoice.