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.
When the kids were little, we took them to Washington DC. They had already seen Nicolas Cage steal the Declaration of Independence 96 times because we had bought the movie National Treasure. They couldn’t wait to see the real document. But they did anyway, (in line) for a long time. They had a lot of questions about the Declaration and the people who signed it. The guy in front of me must have been a history teacher because he kept correcting my answers.
Since then, I have used the embarrassing situation to motivate me to learn more about how extraordinary the founding documents are. The Declaration is truly the greatest of these.
Today we celebrate the gift of freedom given to us from Americans who risked their lives and everything they had for an idea. The idea was freedom and with these words, they declared that it was possible for people to govern themselves because they had God-given rights that were “unalienable.”
Eleven years later, the Constitution was signed by pens dipped in the same inkwell, in the same building. The freedoms those words provide have been tested and proven more durable than any country, faction or person.
We haven’t always lived up to the promise of our Declaration, or the Constitution, but our imperfect country still bases everything on them. Nicolas Cage was right. There is a map on the Declaration of Independence, but it is in the words and not hidden on the back.
We enjoy our freedom because those brave Americans trusted the people with power. They also protected us from the government they broke from and the one they created by limiting federal power and strengthening the states.