SURRATT: Time to remember what the Declaration of Independence stood for

Published 4:00 am Friday, July 1, 2022

“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

“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.”

So begins the Declaration of Independence. Those were brave words from the 56 men who signed it because they were taking a major risk with their own lives and probably those of their families; they were thumbing their nose at Great Britain, which at the time was the premier superpower in the world and the loose confederation of what the British considered their 13 colonies was trying to break away from Mother England’s rule.

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The Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776; it took another seven years before the British recognized the independence of the United States of America.

We celebrate the acts of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence every year with barbecues, fireworks, parades and concerts of patriotic songs. But we tend to forget the courage of those men who faced being branded as traitors, the potential loss of income, a potential voyage to a penal colony in the Pacific called New South Wales (now known as Australia) or the loss of their lives at the end of a rope.

These were brave men; they were willing to face death to stand up for what they believed was right. But it seems some people in public office — and some of the general public — have forgotten the meaning of the words in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that followed it.

Like the British, they want to suppress anyone who criticizes them or the government or holds a dissenting view. They would rather see a favored few be served than do what’s right to help those who don’t have a lot and need help from others to survive.

It’s been 246 years since the Declaration of Independence was adopted. So this weekend, while we’re out sitting on the porch, or in at the pool or on a boat at our favorite lake, take a little time to reflect on a very magnificent document and how we can steer our country back to what the Founding Fathers intended. It seems we’ve been off the track for a while.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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