by Rev. Robert H. Tucker
July 7, 1997
Another Fourth, another reading of the Declaration of Independence.
Each year I open my dog-eared college reference book, Documents
of American History.
Three things impress themselves on me.
First, I continue to find the beginning two paragraphs genuinely
inspirational. The majesty and cadence of the words touch some
very deep feelings in me. Of course, these most famous words are
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.
Next, I am always startled by how truly radical the Declaration
is to any established order. For example, don't these words give
support to today's militia movement which views the U. S. government
as the enemy?
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive
of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish
it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on
such principle and organizing its power in such form, as to them
shall seem most likely to effect their Safely and Happiness.
Finally, I am always humbled by what these men--of privilege
and substance--were willing to do in the name of freedom: to place
their names on a document which was so dangerous to each of them
And for the support of this Declaration with a firm reliance
on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to
each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
This was not an idle pledge since, if the British had won
the war, people like Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas
Jefferson would certainly have lost their fortunes, most likely
their lives, and would have found their fame limited to the obscure
footnotes of doctoral dissertations.
"Would I have signed this Declaration knowing the real
consequences of failure," I ask myself. No clear and easy
answer comes forth. That deep disquietude will arise again on
next year's Fourth.
--Robert H. Tucker
7 July 1997
- © Robert H. Tucker, 1997.
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