Saturday, July 4, 2015

Would I Pick It Up?

The Declaration of Independence, Public Domain.

Greetings All:

Happy 4th of July weekend.  For those of us in America, this is both a historic and fun holiday weekend.  Unlike Memorial Day with its appropriate somberness, the 4th of July is a time to let loose, have fun and enjoy, of course fireworks.  What a great time for all.

All, that is, except for some of our Veterans.  For some, for many, actually, fireworks are not something to be enjoyed, simply endured.  I talked to a friend today who has served our country beyond honorably and he is one of these patriots.  If you see one of these signs, please respect these wishes:

Credit:  Veteran Yard Signs, fair use claimed, full cite below and please, check out this website!

As to the actual reason for the holiday, the opening photo is the reason.  Back in 1776, we told King George III that we were done.  We're breaking up and going our own way.  This was not a minor thing.  Even after Paul Revere's Ride, the "Shot Heard 'Round The World," and open rebellion, there were those who thought, even hoped, reconciliation with Mother England was possible.  

By July of 1776, no more.  By issuing the Declaration of Independence, we did the Eighteenth Century version of "un-friending" England.  It was, in my opinion, the event that forever changed the course of history.

I suspect you're familiar with the story of John Hancock, who signed his name with a flourish and in large print  The rumor (supposedly debunked) is that he signed it so big so that, "The King George III could read it and know whom to hang..." (or words to that effect.)  From my admittedly brief research, there is not sufficient evidence to support this claim.  Still, it's a good story.

John Hancock's signature on The Declaration of Independence, public domain

Hancock was one of the wealthiest men in the colonies and his service to our early nation is worthy of our gratitude.  However, he did not suffer great personal loss for the act of signing the Declaration and publicly supporting the revolt.  This was not the case for many others who signed their name

 I have a link below from that discusses the fates of many who signed their names to this document.  It is interesting to me that some tales of suffering and hardship suffered by those who signed the Declaration have been exaggerated or are simply incorrect.  Still, it is true that many of those who signed this document suffered personal and significant loss.

It raises the question:  Would I sign this document?  I like to think I would. I like to think I would have said, "Hey there, John Hancock, save some space for the rest of us!"  I like to think that I would have agreed with all the grievances outlined in the document and would have said, "Hey guys, we left a bunch of stuff out!"  

But would I have?  Would I have picked up the pen and signed my name to the Declaration of Independence?  Keep in mind that all the men (and they all were men, white men, men of some degree of means, mostly wealthy) who signed this document knew, had to know, that their lives of comfort, privilege, financial abundance was jeopardized, if not forever ruined.  They signed it anyways.

I can argue, rationalize and generally arrive at the conclusion that why yes,...yes I would have signed the Declaration and let the chips fall where they may.  

Yet the honest truth is I will never know for sure.  After all, I was not there.  I get to enjoy with my family the most practical application of Jefferson's words, the "...unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

So I suppose the best I can do today is tip my hat to those who did sign this document and endeavor to conduct myself in a manner that honors the intent of these immortal words.  Oh, and we're also going to catch the parade.  After all, "the pursuit of happiness" was not put in the Declaration of Independence by accident.  

Happy 4th of July all, happy birthday America!

Be well my friends,


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