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Behind the Bang, Boom, Pop and Sizzle

July 4, 2014

It’s Independence Day in the U.S.A. For 238 years we have struggled, staggered, stumbled and striven to be the epitome of what it means to be free and self-determining. People of every nationality come to our shores chasing those same dreams. They know what it means to not have those things. But do we really understand what it means to possess them?

Thomas Jefferson, one of the Founding Fathers, was also one of the greatest thinkers of all time. His foresight was astounding. He warned us that “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” He also admonished us not to let government become our primary caretaker: “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” Whoa. Wait a minute. Sorry, Tom. We’ve already arrived at that point and gone way past it. You must be rotating in your grave.

Maybe not. He also said this, and it sounds like something ripped from today’s news:
“A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true spirit, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt…” Déjà vu! Bet he never figured on Uncle Sam being trillions in the hole. “Trillion” probably never even entered his vocabulary.

And yet more wisdom: “…a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.” Indeed. So what happened here?

How is it that we have strayed so far from the path? It was set down in very clear terms. The Founders went to great lengths to write out extensive explanations for every item in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. Why have we forgotten those explanations even exist?

As you wolf down your BBQ, watermelon and sweet tea, or whatever food your “4th of July” picnic consists of, chew on Jefferson’s words of warning and wisdom. When you gape and gasp at the fireworks display this evening, imagine the battles waged and won with bloody hands so that you can do precisely all those things with little thought for your personal safety and freedom.

Above all, have respect for those who died fighting to give birth to this country, its ideals, and to provide for its continuance as a beacon of hope and dignity for all people. And please do not forget to bestow honor upon those who still defend America with their lives.

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