Wednesday, July 4, 2018

On Independence

I've given David the day off, so enjoy this post from last year. -- Erin

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."
As this post goes live, it is Tuesday, July 4, 2017. It is also Independence Day. On this day 241 years ago, 56 men risked everything they had to ratify a document declaring that they would no longer be subjects to the ruler of a distant land.

Liberty, and everything that comes with it, was dear enough that men were willing to risk everything to obtain it. Failure meant certain death, as well as a permanent stain on their families and progeny.

In the modern day, we celebrate the success of their daring venture. The parades date back to young men (and some old men) marching off to war with a grand farewell. The fireworks are an analog of the artillery fire that has cleared the way for those brave men since the dawn of our nation.

Don't feel guilty if you barbecue, or go to car shows, or go camping or boating or whatever with your family for this holiday. Blood and treasure has been shed for two and a half centuries to secure your right to spend time with the people that matter to you. If patriotic displays or quiet remembrance are more your speed, that's perfectly appropriate, too; the memories of the lives spent in service are worth keeping.

Lives have been pledged to the ideals of this nation since before the Declaration of Independence was even ratified, a tradition which has continued uninterrupted. While at times our military was much smaller, we have always had a core of professional officers and specialists that recruits could rally around. As warfare became more complex and involved, a cadre of true professional soldiers has arisen to fill that role. The stunning part is that all of these professionals are volunteers. We haven't had conscript soldiers in my entire lifetime, and for nearly a decade before.

Knowing that our men and women in uniform all raised their hand of their own free will makes the final line of the Declaration even more poignant:
"with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."
Honor those who have purchased liberty, in whatever way you see fit. That is the nature of freedom, and that is what they have secured for us all.


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