By Rep. Mike Sanders
The Fourth of July is a day packed with emotion for me as it celebrates the founding of our nation and the ideals upon which it was founded: liberty, freedom, justice, fair representation and so much more. This emotion – shared by the entire nation – spills out into expressions of celebration such as parades, patriotism, picnics, fireworks, gatherings of friends and family and so much more. You witness the most outlandish displays of red, white and blue on this day, and I enjoy every bit of it.
For on this day the final wording of the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Second Continental Congress of the original 13 colonies of the United States of America. With this document, the legal separation of the colonies from Great Britain occurred and the new nation officially was formed.
What’s astounding to me is that the final version of the Declaration of Independence was prepared by what is known as the Committee of Five – five members of Congress who drafted and presented to the full Congress the document that would become America’s greatest announcement of independence from tyranny.
Just five men: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston worked on the final draft. The last two are barely remembered by anyone other than historians, and yet they helped accomplish this incredible task.
After serving in the state Legislature for 12 years among 101 members of the House of Representatives, 48 Senators and one executive, I know the rigors of getting legislation passed. It takes writing and rewriting, discussing and debating, amending and and adjusting. It’s a monumental task to get all parties to agree. And yet not one of these pieces of legislation, while well intentioned and helpful to our citizenry, will never achieve the status of this one document drafted by merely five men.
That just goes to show you the value of the few. Never take for granted that your one voice combined with just a few associates can make a vast difference for generations to come. A literal handful of men shaped the destiny of our nation for centuries, and I hope much longer.
On this July 4, I hope each of you take a moment to pause and reflect on the true greatness of our nation and to thank God for our unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
As the Declaration of Independence proclaims, we will continue to assert our right to be free and independent, and as free and independent states, we still have “full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and all other things which independent states may of right do.
As the signers of this incredible document promised, let us likewise resolve: “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.”
Happy Fourth of July!