Forward thinking: July 4th — a time to reflect on our freedoms

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Loren Simmonds

With rare exception, whereever you go, you will find celebrations with cookouts, fireworks and family reunions — one of my favorite days of the year even when it rains.

Independence Day should also be a time of reflection — a day to think about the founding of our nation, about the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and about our birthright of freedom.

Several years ago, I initiated the practice personally to read the Declaration aloud on July 4th. I would encourage you, your family and friends to initiate a new tradition by doing the same.

However, before celebrating the Fourth of July holiday, I’d encourage you to also reflect on this question — What does America mean to you? The Fourth of July, of course, is also called Independence Day. Independence is a uniquely American virtue as well.

The question of what America means to you is a profound question, and can be a very personal one as well. In fact, as I have taken both the time and opportunity to reflect on the above question, I have found myself thinking and pondering different ideas and thoughts.

In an effort to stir the ole gray matter, allow me to share several such questions that I personally believe are fundamental to our freedoms. I am confident that you can easily add to my short list . . . and would encourage you to do so. My questions are as follows:

  • As an American, which freedoms do you consider most fundamental?
  • Which American Founder or Founders do you consider the greatest?
  • What responsibilities are the most important for U.S. Citizenship?
  • What are the most critical issues threatening our freedoms today?
  • Does a free government require an educated citizenry?

Again, I would repeat that Independence Day is a fitting time to reflect on such questions either alone or in the company of other like-minded individuals.

What better time is there than Independence Day to recommit ourselves to promoting knowledge about the Constitution and its underlying principles.

Before I close and wish you a safe and sane 4th, allow me the freedom to take a quick look back to July 4, 1776. Representatives of the Second Continental Congress gathered to sign one of the most important and ambitious documents in human history — the Declaration of Independence.

That day, at the Pennsylvania State House, our Founders didn’t know if they were signing their death warrant or the birth certificate of a brand-new nation.

They had put everything on the line, and nothing was for certain. If America lost the Revolutionary War, they knew it likely meant death for themselves and even their families.

The final line of the Declaration of Independence is filled with their resolve.

It proclaims: “With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our Fortunes and our sacred honor.”

The colonists came out of bondage in England, and they knew they couldn’t go back. In fact, they were willing to pay the ultimate price for their freedom. John Hancock signed his name on the Declaration bigger and bolder than anyone else. He knew it could cost him his life. I love the statement he made:

“And having secured the approval of our hearts, by a faithful and unwearied discharge of our duty to our country, let us joyfully leave our concerns in the hand of Him who raiseth up and pulled down the empires and kingdoms of the world as he pleases.” 

Hancock knew they had taken responsibility and done all they could; therefore, he was assured that God would also do His part.

Bottom line — the patriotism of our Founding Fathers required tremendous courage for them to be responsible and step out into what God had called them to do. Today we are still reaping the dividends of their courage.

Do you and I have the courage to preserve it for the next generation?

Until next time . . .

— By Loren Simmonds

Loren Simmonds has been a resident of Lynnwood for 37 years. He served on the Lynnwood City Council for 16 years, including eight as Council President. He remains active in the community by serving on the Parks and Recreation Foundation Board, Civil Service Commission and the Snohomish County Planning Commission. He believes that volunteerism sows the seeds of community. Loren is semi-retired and works as a writer, speaker and leadership coach.

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