By Jennifer L. Crull
One has to wonder what our Forefathers were up against in the year 1775. Never in the course of history had a colony ever successfully broken ties with its Mother Country. Everything was leading up to a point of explosion, with the citizens of the colonies being over taxed, no representation in Parliament, their homes entered without warrant, and British troops ruling every aspects of their lives. While the first shot was fired in 1775, it took until June 7, 1776 for our Continental Congress to finally vote and approve the debate of American Independence.
While many delegates to the Continental Congress knew we would never reconcile with England, they were not eager to pursue the idea of independence. In order for the colonies to unite and display one vision for independence, a committee was formed to draft a declaration of independence for the American Colonies. This declaration was submitted on June 28, 1776. Finally, after many hours and days of debate, independence was voted on and approved on July 2, 1776 and then on July 4, 1776 our Declaration of Independence, as we know it, was approved and signed by every member present, except one.
Why have you just received this brief review of a history lesson that we all learned in our eighth grade history class? One word comes to mind: PATRIOTISM. Webster’s dictionary defines patriotism as love of and devotion to one’s own country. Our Forefathers did not secure every right we have today, but without their enormous accomplishments we would not have the rights we know today, such as the end of slavery, freedom of religion, and the right for women to vote.
As we like to complain about all that is wrong in our country, let’s remember all that is right and why we love this country. Being able to complain about what we feel is wrong is a right our Forefathers gave to us. We need to issue a challenge to each and every person in this country to remember their rights, respect their rights, and practice their rights. As Thomas Jefferson so eloquently phrased it in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are the rights Jefferson wanted for us. We have gone to war and into conflict many times to defend these rights for ourselves and other countries. Therefore as citizens we have a responsibility to our country to exercise these rights. Voting and civic involvement are the two most important responsibilities.
Voting is a right that few people had as our country was developing, but now everyone over the age of 18 can vote. Countries all over the world are still fighting today for a right that Americans take for granted and don’t usually exercise. But that vote is your say in government, the same government our Forefathers wanted for this great nation. For we have a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
Civic involvement is another important responsibility that many people shy away from, saying they are too busy or they don’t have the funds to donate. Whether your town has 200 or 200,000 people, you need to be involved. Civic involvement can take many forms such as running for office, serving on selected committees or boards, or just volunteering your time to a local organization. Communities don’t thrive on a few over-involved people; it takes everyone. Being involved from the local to the national level is one of the great things about our country. The only requirement is the desire to be involved.
Please remember to celebrate our freedom, our independence, and our rights as citizens of the United States of America!
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Public Interest Institute. They are brought to you in the interest of a better informed citizenry.
Jennifer L. Crull, IT Specialist, Public Interest Institute, 600 North Jackson Street, Mount Pleasant, IA 52641-1328. Ph: 319-385-3462, Web site: www.LimitedGovernment.org. Contact her at Public.Interest.Institute@LimitedGovernment.org.