"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.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed" . . .
Everyone remembers the first part of this sentence but forgets what follows, that the founding fathers meeting in the summer of 1776 believed in order to promote and protect these declared rights that they had to create a new government for this country to protect those self-declared rights. It is worth noting that the declaration ends with: "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." We as Americans are a group, we pledge to each other.
As we celebrate this national birthday, it is fitting to once again remember that the founders believed in good government by and for the citizens. They did not see this nation as a free-for-all where everyone was empowered to do whatever they wanted. They recognized individual rights but also the collective responsibilities. At the earliest days this was a movement of individuals coming together to achieve a greater whole. As Ben Franklin said to the participants " We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang seperately.
In the 200 plus years since, men and women have fought and died under their nations' colors to preserve and protect the freedoms that were won. Men and women. boys and girls have marched and protested for equal rights and equal access. They still do so today.
America is a unique achievement worth celebrating on its birthday. Bring on the fireworks and parades, the food and the music knowing that tomorrow the work to build a more perfect union still continues.