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Happy Independence Day

Note: I originally posted this entry on July 4, 2008, but it seems as relevant now as it did then. I’m grateful to live in the United States and if you’re a citizen, I hope you are too.

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232 years ago today, a group of men signed a remarkable document whose principles continued to be honored today. It is a sample of America at its finest and was signed by a group of people whose patriotism was beyond question.

That document was the Declaration of Independence and I strongly suggest you spend some time reading it today at http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration.html or some other site you trust for an authentic text.

I think we can all agree that each and everyone of the signers was patriotic beyond question. After all, merely signing the Declaration earned them a death sentence for treason. And yet, I wonder whether America would recognize these men if they were brought forth from the 18th Century. After all, they didn’t:

  1. Wear a flag pin – These didn’t come into fashion until after World War Two
  2. Say the Pledge of Allegiance at the signing ceremony – It wasn’t written until 1892, and not recognized by Congress until 1945.
  3. Sing the National Anthem, which wasn’t adopted by Congress until 1931, more than a century after it was written.
  4. Believe that liberty comes from a large, strong, centralized military. As a group, the founding fathers considered standing armies to be a threat to liberty.

Maybe the country could do with a broader view of patriotism. One that could take in our founders.

May the light of America’s founding values be stoked higher and burn for at least another 236 years. Happy Independence Day!

Sources:

1 – A brief history of the flag lapel pin, Time, July 3, 2008 – http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1820023,00.html

2 – Baker, Richard A. The New Members’ Guide to Traditions of the United States Senate. (Washington, GPO, 2006. S.Pub. 109-25), 15. Found on US Senate web site at http://www.senate.gov/reference/Sessions/Traditions/Pledge_Allegiance.htm

3 – Lyrics and Music page of NIEHS kids page at http://kids.niehs.nih.gov/lyrics/spangle.htm#history

4 –  Historical Background On The Reserves (Official Website for 4th Marine Aircraft Wing) at http://www.mfr.usmc.mil/4thmaw/hq/reserveHistory.htm

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