Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are the unalienable rights called out in the Declaration of Independence. “To secure these rights, governments are instituted,” it reads, and “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 power in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their safety and happiness.”
The significance of the Fourth of July, the date which the Second Continental Congress ratified the Declaration of Independence, is one of the first historical lessons we learn in early grade school, along with the pilgrims, Plymouth Rock, Thanksgiving and George Washington.
I remember learning a lot about the history of the United States, and I certainly hope it’s still a prevailing subject in our educational system, but regardless of what I learned in the past, it’s easy to forget things, or take them for granted. For those reasons alone I often research our national holidays to make sure I’m giving them their due.
The Fourth of July is one of the easier ones, but reading the Declaration of Independence made me reflect on our history as country since that very day in 1776 when we officially adopted it. As a country we’ve had our hard times and we’ve made our mistakes, but we’ve also ultimately done, as a country, exactly what we specified in our Declaration of Independence in order to maintain the unalienable rights of our citizens.
We’ve altered, abolished and instituted new, over and over again as we grew as a country, and the foundation of our government is what allowed us to do that, and it will allow us to grow in the future.
Now, I’m far from a world traveler, but I’ve been overseas many times, and to a lot of nice places that I’d love to visit again. The operative word here is “visit.” I’ve also known several people who would qualify for world traveler status, and what I’ve learned from them is they share the same feeling as I. No matter how grand the destination may be, they always want to come home to the United States of America.
There is something different here. We’ve had our problems in the past. We have our troubles today. But we have opportunity and freedom like no other country in the world. It might be tough, and it might take time, but we solve our problems and continuously strive to make the USA the best country in the world. Our country is worth celebrating.
When I think of the Fourth of July, on the surface I think of fireworks, cookouts and hot summer weather. But I like to take a moment and remind myself that it’s a celebration for a united country that stands for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The United States of America.