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, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. 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.
There are 56 signatures bearing witness to the Declaration of Independence.
As news of the Declaration spread, copies were read in town meetings and as the full meaning of this one piece of paper was seen within the colonies, people celebrated.... tore down the "old" symbols of British rule from public places. It had begun with the Continental Congress approving a Virginian motion calling for seperation from Britain on July 2 1776 and the formal adoption of the Declaration by twelve colonies on July 4th. By 1786, celebrating the Declaration had become a formal ritual with cannons and bells sounding, parades, town meetings, bonfires and fireworks. It wasn't until 1941 that Congress declared the Fourth of July a federal holiday.
Today as we celebrate amidst the the more than $120 million of fireworks and $50 million of American flags, gather together for family and town picnics, visit the beach or national parks or stand at the curb as the parade passes by..................... take a few minutes to remember why we are celebrating today.
The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution gave us the freedom and checks and balences to show the world that America stood alone in our independence. We were the shining example of what freedom "of and for the people" meant, the country my grandparents left their homeland to become citizens of........ the democratic country our volunteer military still defends. In these times of terrorism, global unrest, seemly rudderless leadership at home, I still believe we can be the shining example of the democracy that we as a nation were born to. Take the time to remember what today celebrates and remember it again as you go to vote for our future leaders.
Let freedom ring..........
For a complete transcript of the Declaration of Independence look here or visit here for the Constitution and Bill of Rights.