Time to read the Declaration

July 03, 2012 | By JOSHUA THOMPSON

Tomorrow marks the day we celebrate freedom and liberty in this country.  It is a remarkable day.  July 4th celebrates the first (and perhaps only) time a nation was founded on the principles of liberty and equality under the law.  And while our nation has struggled, at times, to achieve those ideals, the principles announced in the Declaration of Independence stand as a constant reminder of what this nation represents.

Every July 4th, I find time to read the Declaration, and I urge all to read it.  It’s a remarkable testament to our Founding Fathers, who had the courage to declare their independence from Britain, even though they knew that their decision would likely condemn them to death.  It’s that courage that affects me so strongly on July 4th.  They had the courage to stare down tyranny — to give their lives for freedom.

The video below is from the HBO miniseries John Adams.  It is an excellent miniseries, and some of my favorite scenes throughout the series revolve around the Declaration of Independence.  For example, I love this scene where John Adams and Ben Franklin are reading Jefferson’s masterpiece for the first time. But the scene below is taken from the Second Continental Congress’s vote on independence.  After the 13 colonies vote — and the motion for independence carries — you can see that the enormity of their collective act begins to set in.  They knew what independence meant, and they knew their freedom was not going to be won by simply declaring independence.  Ties with Britain were cut off, a war had already begun, and their lives — if they kept them — would be forever changed.  [Vote ends at about 2:30.]