Fourth still requires belief and work

Dave Bergmeier

Our nation seems as divided as many of us can ever remember but it is important to have perspective. All we need to do is think of the July Fourth holiday, which is the celebration of our nation’s birth.

The Declaration of Independence remains an important document for all of us to have somber and joyful reflection. Students learn the most striking and oft-quoted phrase, “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 Fourth of July has been a time of reminding us of the lessons we learned as schoolchildren and applied throughout the rest of our lives. The Declaration of Independence was written at a different time and era. There were no social media platforms, internet, radio or television.

The Declaration of Independence, issued July 4, 1776, was written principally by Thomas Jefferson along with committee members Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston.

Jefferson and his committee went about writing down the grievances to say the 13 United States of America formally declared that they no longer wanted to be under the governance of British rule.

One must wonder about the conflict the committee must have had in trying to craft such a statement. Many colonials were torn whether to go on their own or stay under British rule. Plus, all 13 states had different agendas and regional economies that were not tied to global trade like we have today. Yet they could put aside their differences to agree on a higher principle.

We must be thankful and grateful for the vision of our Founding Fathers who were able to craft the Declaration of Independence. The work was far from over. Even after winning the Revolutionary War, we still had many challenges—the Constitution was not written in 1787, ratified in 1789 and has been the governing document since 1789. Slavery was still an accepted practice and women could not vote.

Today we have 50 states and ideologues are aplenty—all one has to do is get on the internet to see the vast amount—yet we continue to function even if it seems difficult and troubling.

Our Founding Fathers could never foresee the challenges and opportunities but they had the moxie to tell the British enough was enough. Today the U.S. remains the shining star of the global stage. None of it could have started without a Declaration of Independence.

As people gather for family traditions, fireworks or harvesting wheat—the freedoms we enjoy are tied directly to a single document that put us on a trajectory to be on our own. We are forever indebted to those leaders who were visionaries.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].