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Remember our origins this holiday

Two-hundred and forty-three years ago this week, 56 men signed a document, effectively committing high treason against the English crown. That document, the Declaration of Independence, declared that the 13 colonies – to which point had been under British rule – would regard themselves moving forward as 13 sovereign states, no longer under British control.

The document served as a formal explanation as to why the Second Continental Congress had voted to declare its independence from Great Britain two days prior, and now serves as one of the primary bedrocks of our country.

Nearly two and a half centuries later, it is remarkable how poignant the words written by Thomas Jefferson still remain. The context of these words has shifted through the space of time and action, but the resounding truths cemented into the text remain remarkable. One of the more well-known passages in the text is here below.

“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.”

In short, articulate text, our Founding Fathers laid the groundwork for what the United States of America would evolve into. Intelligent, driven and resolute men from a different era set out to create something new, something unique and something lasting.

As we know, the American Revolution was successful, and 200-plus years later, here we are. The world is a much different place now than it was then, no doubt, as is the country. With 50 states and nearly 330 million people, the country has evolved into a behemoth the Founding Fathers never envisioned.

In that growth through the years has come successes and failures, highs and lows. We have seen our country and its people accomplish great things, and we have seen dark, morally heinous periods as well. We have come quite a long way from a Philadelphia state building on a muggy July morning in the 18th century in some ways, and in other ways we still struggle to uphold the simple truths that were found to be self-evident all those years ago.

This holiday, take a moment to reflect on those words from the Declaration. Take a moment to remember that all are created equal, with certain irrefutable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Often, it feels like we forget those simple words in our dealings with others. As we celebrate the birthplace of the country we hold so dear, take a moment to meditate on the words that led to its formation.