Happy Independence Day!

As citizens of the United States, we celebrate Independence Day every 4th of July.  But July 4, 1776 was not the date we won our independence; that took years of conflict and a much later peace treaty.   What this date honors is the Declaration of Independence, and its principles are worth remembering:

“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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The Declaration of Independence goes on to say that the people have the right to organize a government that “shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Governments do not automatically honor those self-evident truths, and not everyone acts in support of our safety and happiness. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, later wrote, ““I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which government can be held to the principles of its constitution.”