Column: A holiday of history, spirit and freedom – Hickory Daily Record

Posted: June 30, 2022 at 9:19 pm

The document lays out the reasons why many of the English colonists in America desired a country of their own making. The founders were serious people and studied some of the traps in the forming of past governments. America, unlike many countries, is based on ideas; the notion in which each person coming from the womb or immigrating from elsewhere has certain inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Most individuals understand the concepts of life and liberty but misunderstand happiness. The word Thomas Jefferson used meant fulfillment, meaning governments exist so that each citizen can rise as far as talent might take them. All these concepts mean just as much today as they did during the founding perhaps more.

Once written down, the three ideas became enshrined in our countrys being and goals to achieve for all Americans. In fact, the people who didnt have certain political rights at the time of the founding knew those unalienable rights were there to contend for and aspire to. Those ideals had to become a reality for all Americans, not just a select few.

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The words began a country which Gen. Douglas MacArthur called a beloved land of culture and ancient descent. Individuals from all faiths and backgrounds not only compose the fabrics of America but make the country stronger in the process.

As July 4 nears, we are measured by the people of history and the past. During Independence week, we are reminded of the work of many of the people who were emboldened by Jeffersons words and tried to stand on the concepts of the American creed. Women worked on the freedom to vote and minorities worked for better rights. That kind of work and struggle goes on.

Moreover, Independence Day should be an esteemed day for learning the history of the country which we do not know yet. We have a duty to keep learning history and learning about each other. We should be searching out the many contributions various kinds of Americans have made. There is no extreme nationalism in learning about the history of diverse Americans.

July 4 is a reminder we owe the Americans who came before us a little respect, appreciation and gratitude. The holiday also encourages us to live the political values which founded the country. We are asked to vote because countless people at the beginnings of the country did not have the opportunity to vote. We should endeavor to be good citizens because not every individual started out in the country with their citizenship granted. And we must serve because America at its best is a country which gives and provides. In this nation, people have many freedoms which are not protected in other countries.

And one must simply ask oneself: What kind of country could produce such fantastic individuals as Margaret Chase Smith, Harry Truman, Cesar Chavez, Charles Schulz, Billy Graham, Colin Powell, John Lewis, Fred Korematsu, Pauli Murray, Gertrude Ederlee, Sojourner Truth, and many others?

Some of these names are known, others not so much. Yet, when injustices presented themselves or when the government needed changing, they moved with ideas based on freedom and independence. They also marched with a freedom of will. They acted from freedom of conscience based on the concepts of life, liberty, and happiness.

The founding words of the country speak out to us. They are represented in the lives of slaves and freedmen who fought in the revolution, in the life and legacy of George Washington, in the poetry of Phyllis Wheatley, and the speeches of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

Independence Day is a time to celebrate and remember the words and ideas Thomas Jefferson crafted in a two-room apartment in Philadelphia in the summer of 1776. The document was accepted on July 2 and printed two days later, those declarations became precisely that. Gen. Washington ordered the text read out loud to his soldiers five days after the countrys first July 4. To hear them is to be reminded of the moment.

Life, liberty, and happiness also involves freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and a thousand other liberties enshrined in a proper republican government. And if the government seeks not to protect rights, it is the duty of the citizens to change it. That is a powerful concept still.

The rich and deep history of the country is an immense journey of discovery. It is hard not to be amazed to be living in a country which made so many great individuals with their own intellect, interests, and passions.

What kind of country could do this? A free one.

And we have a duty to keep it so for generations to come.

Brent Tomberlin is a social studies instructor at South Caldwell High School and at CCC&TI. He can be reached at coachtomberlin@gmail.com.

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Column: A holiday of history, spirit and freedom - Hickory Daily Record

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