We celebrated our Independence Day this month, a national holiday highlighted with barbecues, parades and fireworks. I had the rare privilege of carrying a 60’ x 30’ American flag in the Severna Park parade. Donated by Mr. Philip McDavitt in honor of his son, Nathan, who died last year while on active duty, there were 50 to 70 people who helped maneuver the flag down the streets. Veterans stood and saluted and there was reverence and awe among the crowd. Children ran under the flag and played there, a symbol of them being free while covered by the flag. Mr. McDavitt, we hope you felt honored by the participants and the crowd.
From what did we declare our Independence? What had gone wrong since the Mayflower Compact was written on November 11, 1620 where they declared themselves “…the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, defender of the Faith, etc.”?
On October 25, 1774, the First Continental Congress petitioned King George III with a long list of grievances which includes but is not limited to, and is summarized:
- That they are entitled to life, liberty and property
- Entitled to all the rights, liberties and immunities of free and natural-born citizens
- Emigration to the colonies was not a cause of forfeiture of those rights
- The foundation of English liberty …is a right in the people to participate in their legislative council
- That the respective colonies are entitled to the common law of England, and more especially to the great and inestimable privilege of being tried by their peers
- They have a right peaceably to assemble, consider of their grievances, and petition the King
- It is indispensably necessary to good government, and rendered essential by the English constitution, that the constituent branches of the legislature be independent of each other
If these look familiar, it is because they form the foundation of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution with a particular emphasis on the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments. Independence Day may be officially celebrated on July 4 but we celebrate it every time we elect new representatives, when we join campaigns that reflect our values and beliefs, when we question why things are done and investigate if there are better ways, when we testify before our elected officials, when we join our local civic groups to develop peace and harmony in our neighborhoods, when we volunteer in our schools to help develop the next generation of citizens.
Unlike our forbearers, we are not ‘Subjects of the King’ but ‘’citizens’. Each and every day is an opportunity to celebrate our freedom by acting out our citizenship. As an example of how everyone can contribute, we need help manning the Central Committee booth at the county fair from September 13-17 and are looking for at least 4 people for a 3 hour shift. Can I count on you to volunteer for one shift over those four days? This is an opportunity to be active citizens participating in our constitutional republic, educating others about our candidates.
Let’s get busy.