On July 4th the United States will be celebrating Independence Day—the federal holiday commemorating the Declaration of Independence, a document that was drawn up by, among others, founding fathers Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams and was signed with unanimous approval by the 56 delegates to the Second Continental Congress. The purpose of the declaration was to announce and explain why the 13 original colonies were separating from Great Britain.
“The Declaration justified the independence of the United States by listing 27 colonial grievances against King George III and by asserting certain natural and legal rights, including a right of revolution. Its original purpose was to announce independence, and references to the text of the Declaration were few in the following years.” In 1863 (four score and 7 years later), President Abraham Lincoln made it the centerpiece of his famous Gettysburg Address. Since then, the Declaration of Independence has become a well-known statement on human rights, especially its second sentence: “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.”
Independence has been a core value in the United States since our founding, and so it is celebrated heartily here every Fourth of July with fireworks, picnics and concerts, parades and the flying of the red, white and blue, all in celebration of independence.
When I look at the dictionary definition, I see that the word ‘independent’ means, among other things, ‘freedom from the influence, guidance or control of another or others: self-reliance; self-governing.’ And further down the entry, independent is defined as having enough wealth and resources to be able to rely on one’s self. While the Declaration holds independence as a value for everyone, as it states that we are all ‘created equal,’ it can sometimes seem that not everyone gets the same share of independence. Especially in these days when just getting by can be a challenge for many of us.
In our work here at the township we try to help people find their own to share in the American promise of independence. Whether by assisting during a financial emergency, helping someone find a job, providing scholarships for a child’s education, or food and clothing for those in need; township government in Indiana helps to level the playing field so that everyone can celebrate on the Fourth of July.
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