It’s often said that on July 4, 1776, a new nation was born. But we weren’t really “born” any more than a child is born as they move out of the house and off to college, or to start a new career. The 13 original colonies had reached the point where they strongly desired to operate apart from the influences (taxation) of King George and his vast empire. The signing of the Declaration of Independence was simply that, a declaration of independence. It would be months until King George would hear of this treasonous document, but on (or near) that day, delegates from the original 13 colonies struck an agreement that they would be united in a common goal.
Against uncertain odds, and great peril to themselves, the fledgling nation would escalate battle against their prior motherland and kinsmen in a bid for autonomy. This was not a fight to gratify some self-serving indulgence, but to give a better future to subsequent generations. Based solely on military might, the colonies should have lost, but through great fortune [read divine intervention] the empire of Britain was pushed back. With this newfound freedom the great experiment of the United States of America could occur.
The United States – that’s what vision the Founding Fathers had. An entire nation united and working together to establish a “more perfect” nation. It wasn’t perfect then, and it isn’t perfect now, but the freedom won through unity gave the united states not just a more perfect union but a firm framework that supported continual improvement though the voice of the people.
During the Civil War we almost lost our united states when the southern states seceded from the northern. Again, our united nation was preserved by great fortune as the more industrial northern states were able to maintain morale for their cause in a miserable war against the well-qualified southern generals defending their home front. The war wasn’t waged primarily on the issue of slavery, as is often taught, but on maintaining the Union. President Lincoln once wrote, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery”. It so happened that as the war progressed, freeing the slaves was a popular sentiment which helped to unite the people in a common goal. Without unity, the “house” of our nation would not stand, but through the unity of the people and the grace of Heaven, freedoms were extended to more people.
Consider if the southern states had succeeded in their secession – would slavery still be around? If it were not for the more perfect union, what freedoms would have been lost instead of gained?
Just as our founding fathers found freedom through their unity, we too will find greater freedom as a nation as we are united and tune out those influences which seek to divide the union based on culture, race, social issues, religion, political affiliation or other superficial labels. As we celebrate our Independence day, may we, as a nation and individuals, selflessly seek to be unified and reach out with goodwill to those around us.
Happy Independence day!