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, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, http://www.law.indiana.edu/uslawdocs/declaration.html
These are the words that begin the document that is the basis for our Fourth of July celebration. The final version signed on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia by the Second Continental Congress did not end or begin the Revolutionary War, but simply and clearly stated that we are a free country–consequently severing our ties with the British crown for a long list of reasons. Everyone should read the document in its entirety at some time in their lives, and feel in their hearts what those courageous men were feeling the day they signed their names to such a world-shattering piece of paper.
The first declaration was greeted with bell ringing and bonfires in Philadelphia. The anniversary a year later was greeted by celebratons and fireworks in the same city. The holiday spread rapidly and eventually became our day of leisure with barbecues and swimming pools and picnics, topped by the tradtional fireworks.
I hope everyone has a wonderful, joyous, and safe Fourth, but I also hope that some time during the day, you stop and give thanks to the fathers of this country, the men of wisdom and courage who stood up and shouted THIS IS WRONG and then—did something about it. We owe them to never forget, and to follow bravely in their footsteps, always bearing in mind that all men are created equal, with the right to pursue freedom and happiness.