“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.”

These cherished words still ring true today just as they have for the past 243 years, yet, I have found that many twist their original meaning to support personal agendas.

As we celebrate our one true American holiday this July 4, I’d like for you to remember with me what events led to this national holiday. Ask yourselves; What does it mean to be American? Why is it important for me to remember? Does remembering make me a better American?

All of these questions were presented by my pastor, Dale Croft, in Sunday’s sermon at my church. His sermon outlined the historic events that culminated in the signing of our Declaration of Independence. To Americans, this document is the corner post of our great nation and is held in such high esteem that it is kept under lock and key in a bullet-proof shrine under the Rotunda of the National Archives in Washington D.C. Millions visit the site every year to get a glimpse of our national treasure before it is lowered into a concrete and steel reinforced bunker each night.

Take a little journey with me as we travel back in time to see what prompted the inscribed words of this valued document. The 13 colonies of a young nation had increasingly felt the pressure of the Kingdom of Great Britain. The growing tensions resulted in the Revolutionary War as Americans were taxed yet not allowed to have representation in government matters. Thus, the saying taxation without representation took on a life of its own and patriots declared it was time for action. Representatives from the 13 colonies met in Philadelphia in July of 1776 and formally adopted the Declaration of Independence after Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion calling for the colonies’ independence.

The Revolutionary War raged on for another seven years until Great Britain finally recognized the independence of the United States by signing the Treaty of Paris severing their stronghold on our great nation.

Allow me to revisit my questions. I can’t answer for anyone but myself, but being American runs deep inside me. I am patriotic with every breath I take in this country that offers freedom like no other on the face of the earth. I honor the sacrifice of those fledgling colonies and I honor the sacrifice of everyone who works or fights to preserve the freedom I enjoy. You will not see me looking on our American flag with disdain for she represents my country and as such she has earned the right to be held in high esteem by everyone who wishes to be identified as American.

Pastor Dale Croft summed it up beautifully when he said, “July 4th is more than a political event, and it is a promise of freedom, equality and the American dream.”

He went on to say there are four hindrances that tarnish that promise. The light of what it means to be an American is dimmed when her people lose hope, when they lose their integrity, when materialism at any cost captures her citizens, and when the fear of God no longer exists.

The truth of his words led me to re-evaluate my status as an American. His words led me to remember along with novelist George Santayana who famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Happy Independence Day!

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