Saturday, July 4, 2015

The 4th of July

The great patriotic holiday points back to the date the Continental Congress ratified the text of what is now called the Declaration of Independence. The Congress having two days before taken the decision to declare independence from Great Britain (i.e., to revolt), on the Fourth adopted a text written by Thomas Jefferson declaring that fact and enumerating the reasons. The document was rapidly printed and distributed, with public readings taking place in on July 8th in Philadelphia, PA, Trenton, NJ, and Easton, PA. On July 9th, General George Washington read it to his troops in New York City, while thousands of British troops were in New York Harbor. The first translation, into German, was published on July 9th. It quickly made its way throughout the colonies and was published in British newspapers by mid-August. (Please note in the picture to the left the strikethrough of "Forever" is an anti-counterfeiting device in this official image from the Postal Service.)

History does not record many successful revolts. The delegates who later put their names to the Declaration of Independence (it was only signed a month later) must have known they were risking their lives, as well as the future of this new land called "America." Like the Liberty Bell which was probably rung on July 8, 1776 to celebrate the reading of the Declaration, these leaders had their flaws.

But they made the case that their new, hoped-for union was necessary to redress some of the ills of the empire, and thus, like the inscription on the bell, they proclaimed "LIBERTY throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof," (Leviticus 25:10).

This is a good day to remember not only those men who took a nation's life into their hands, but all American citizens and so many others throughout the world who have been inspired by the vision that all people are created equal, and that all should share equally in the rights, responsibilities, and opportunities this inclusive vision brings.

God bless America, and may our vision of a just society be renewed, strengthened, and made ever more real.