Now 238 years after the representatives from the 13 colonies gathered as the Continental Congress in Philadelphia and signed the Declaration of Independence, we celebrate and give thanks to almighty God, who, in the words of The Book of Common Prayer, “has given us this good land for our heritage.”
Let us be reminded that we are a work in progress in realizing the full potential and implication of Thomas Jefferson’s words, “that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
We celebrate this day as the nation prepares for an election to choose people who will make laws to affect the general welfare and common good of all people. Will the laws they pass reflect the words of Jefferson?
After the vote for independence was announced, Benjamin Franklin told those gathered: “During the days of deliberations I could not decide whether the seal on the chair used by the chairman depicted a rising or a setting sun. Now that we have decided on independence and the creation of a new and democratic republic I am convinced that it is a rising sun bringing light and illumination into the world.”
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As people created by God and as citizens of the United States of America, it is our bounden duty to stand for public policies that ensure liberty and justice for all.
As Franklin Delano Roosevelt put it in 1940: “We must scrupulously guard the civil rights and civil liberties of all our citizens, whatever their background. We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization.”
As we raise the flag, sing the National Anthem and enjoy the fireworks on Friday, let us not lose sight of the vision of our forefathers expressed in the Declaration.
Rev. Canon George I. Chassey