When you drop a pebble into a body of water, you may notice a small splash that seemingly disappears with a blink of an eye. From that splash emerges small ripples, circling on and on, building from the center and flowing throughout the body of water.
It is easy for us to dismiss these ripples, for we believe there is no way of telling where the end might be. Yet, as insignificant as these ripples may seem at the moment of the pebble drop, its impact in most assuredly affecting the world in which we live. July 4, 1776, is just such a ripple.
On that date, with the “unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,” one people set forth in motion a new course, “to establish the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them.” With the intent to “to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth,” our nation, yours and mine, did not throw a mere pebble into the water. By putting forth the Declaration of Independence, a giant boulder was cast and waves much bigger than ripples affect us still today.
The Declaration of Independence continues to advance liberty, and has moved far beyond what our Founding Fathers may have thought were the true possibilities of each of these words. Like waves that reach shores long after the rock fell into the water, the Declaration of Independence changed the course of human history. Governments would fall; new representation would rise merely on these 1,458 words. We stand here today as we always have, conflicted about what is right and what is wrong, yet united by the words “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.”
We are continually asking ourselves “where should we move next,” often failing to find consensus, falling short of “unanimous.” In these moments of doubt we should never be conflicted about the true intent of what these words are telling us every single day, reminding us those who suffer in “human events,” absent of liberty, are our brothers and sisters. Whether they’re from these United States or from shores far away, they too can find solace in the universal message contained in the Declaration of Independence, the self-evident truths that are “most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Ink on a piece of parchment is nothing without those who stand behind it, in front of it, and have fought and died to protect it. The sacrifice of our men and women who served in our military is in many ways the only reason we still stand here today as a nation, able to advance the principles contain in the Declaration of Independence.
As we celebrate in peace, men and women continue to strive in the defense of our nation, to fight against tyranny, and secure liberty for our nation and those nations who seek our help. The true heroes were already on the battlefields fighting against tyranny long before the dawn broke on the morning of July 4, 1776. Every single day those who serve this country are there to make sure we as a nation have the opportunity to fulfill the principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence. And even though we have stumbled from time to time, our military still stands guard, ever watchful, affording us the opportunity to wake up one more day in a free nation, and work to overcoming our failings, and advance our triumphs.
We as a nation have crossed many rivers, and we have many more rivers to cross to fulfill the solemn words that gave birth to our country. On the morning of July 4, 1776, the sun rose not only on a new nation, but a new world. The Declaration of Independence gave all those oppressed all around the world hope, and still provides a light in the darkness for those seeking liberty. We should dread the day when the sun will set on this country, when the words contained within the Declaration of Independence fade from our memory and are forgotten. Should the sun set on this country the world will know only darkness. For all our faults, we still are the “shining city on the hill.” And that is a good thing.
God bless America, watch over our military and happy Independence Day.