The Fourth

By Rep. Mike Sanders 

Between the fireworks, the parades and family gatherings in the park, sometimes it’s hard to think about what that 1776 July 4 must have been like.

First, I think about how tense the scene must have been, the independence of a new nation hanging in the balance. Breaking from the tyranny of an old master was necessary, but it must have been bittersweet. England was a known empire builder, a protector and the fatherland of most of the American colonists. To declare independence would mean years more of war, being cut off from supplies from home, in many instances being at odds with neighbors and friends, even family members.

As a state lawmaker, I’ve been in tense negotiations before – plenty of times. We argue over things that in the moment seem monumental – how to fund almost 100 state agencies in a recession, for instance. Still, I’ve never felt like I was risking my life or the lives of all of those I love and care for when I author or argue a bill. Sometimes I’ve felt the federal government is tyrannical in its demands, but I’ve never faced it sending troops to my door for my defiance.

Sometimes I’m amazed that 56 men could come to such an agreement. I don’t know if this could be done today. We had a hard time getting 56 votes on any major piece of legislation this year.

Yet, on July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress of the United States of America approved the final wording for the Declaration of Independence. After several days of what I’m imagining were very heated arguments and debates, the last i was dotted and the last t crossed. The letter declaring independence from tyranny was officially adopted.

I wonder how many people remember that independence from England actually was officially declared on July 2, 1776. The Declaration wasn’t even signed until Aug. 2, and the letter sent in November. The Constitution was signed in September. Yet we celebrate July 4 as our independence day. Sometimes I think our founding fathers picked this date because of the momentousness of being able to come to that final agreement. The first Continental Congress had met a year and a half before. War had already been raging in the colonies since April 1775. The draft of the declaration had been in the works for almost a month. And here was the finished work, agreed to on the future blood that would be spilled over its words.

Liberty, freedom, independence – none are free; none are cheap.

I hope wherever you are this July 4 you’ll remember those who agreed to the final version of the Declaration of Independence, and the divine help they must have received in coming to this agreement. It has kept U.S. citizens free for more than 240 years. Happy July 4!

As always, I’d love to hear from you. I can be contacted at Mike.Sanders@OKHouse.Gov or (405) 557-7407.

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