Did you know this? Happy Fourth of July

Independence day is one of America’s most celebrated and enjoyable days. From picnics to fire works to family fame, it’s hard to beat for summer fun. Here are a few fun facts which you may not have known about July 4.

Did you know?

Our Founding Fathers didn’t declare independence on July 4, 1776.  They declared independence on July 2, 1776.

Then what happened on July 4? The text of the declaration was finally approved by Congress that day.  It wasn’t actually signed until August 2, 1776.

Did you know?

Two of our founding father’s died exactly 50 years to the day of our first independence day – that being July 4, 1826. Do you know who they were? Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. I don’t know who planned that, but that’s pretty cool.

Did you know?

On September 2, 1945, when Ho Chi Minh read Vietnam’s Declaration of Independence from the French, he quoted Jefferson’s America’s declaration “all men are created equal endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights …” as a means of pleasing a group of American observers who were in the crowd that day in Hanoi. As a strange note in history, an American reconnaissance plane was flying over Hanoi during the declaration and swooped down to take a closer look at what was happening. Many in the crowd saw the American plane and cheered, taking it as a show of support for their independence. But no, it was just a coincidence, and after another week, American ships were ferrying French soldiers back into Indochina so they could retake their pre-WWII possessions. But that’s a story of independence for another day.

Did you know?

Thomas Jefferson did not write every single word of the declaration. Certain parts were slightly edited by other founders who wanted to tweak it this way or that. An example of this is the phrase “endowed by their Creator,” a phrase not in the original text but added anyways much to the chagrin of Jefferson.

Did you know?

The Statue of Liberty was gifted to the United States by France in 1876 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of our independence.

Have you read the declaration lately? You should. It’s a clear indication of what our Founding Father’s thought our new country should be all about.

Enjoy the freedom and independence we enjoy because these brave men and many other brave men and women through the years who fought to preserve it. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Reagan quotes:

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

Happy Independence Day everyone!

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Rights, The Declaration of Independence, & the Louisiana School System

In this fascinating article by Tom Lindsey Is the Declaration of Independence Based on a Lie which I’ve started using in my history and government class, Lindsey brings up a rejected bill in the Louisiana State Assembly which would have required school students to recite a portion of the Declaration of Independence before school. Representative Norton, who opposed the bill, stated that the D of I was written during the time of slavery so principles such as “…all men are created equal…” was a lie and we shouldn’t make children recite such nonsense which wasn’t true since slavery was still legalized.

Lindsey does a fabulous job in illustrating why Norton’s view is sheer nonsense. Three of his critiques rest on the shoulders of some famous Americans who spoke specifically about this issue. Here’s what they said:

Martin Luther King Jr.: “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Abraham Lincoln: “[The founders] meant to set up a standard maxim for free society, which should be familiar to all, and revered by all; constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated. . . .”

Frederick Douglas, in his critique of the Dred Scott case and the embarrassing opinion of then Chief Justice Roger Taney, said that slaves indeed were meant to benefit from the Declaration’s claim.

So the question must be asked? Who would you rather trust on the matter: Representative Norton from Louisiana or Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglas, and Abraham Lincoln?

Wow, that’s a close call. Let me think about this for a minute.

The Declaration of Independence set up a standard, a goal which the young country was striving towards; a belief that was embedded within the philosophy of the day.

Who you ask?

These former Englishmen who set out to break away from King George did so with the words and influence of a famous English philosopher ringing in their ears: John Locke.

Locke, who especially influenced Thomas Jefferson, the writer of (most of) the Declaration of Independence, spoke of Nature’s Law. The rights of humans is not bestowed on humanity by a bureaucratic government or a benevolent king. No, rights come from Nature and from God. They are not something that can be given out by attaching it to a bill and passing it in Congress. We have rights because we are human, like we have breath, given to us by our Creator, bestowed upon our nature because of who we are – human.

And while unrighteous governments can take rights away, can enslave an entire race, can segregate and separate and pick and choose as long as it has the might to do so, government can NOT alienate us from our rights. Thus the saying: “we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights …”

Each and every slave had rights given to them by God. Taken away from them by man.

This is the beauty of the Declaration of Independence. It celebrates humanity in such a powerful way, even amidst a world which was at that time (or at this time) anything but perfect.

But the ideal, the precedent, the goal to strive for was forever enshrined within our founding documents. That is, indeed, something to be celebrated. It’s something to be memorized. It’s something to be recited in our classrooms.

I hope Representative Norton will look again at our imperfect past and see the struggle we’ve all been working towards has been there right from the beginning. School kids need to know this.