Happy 242nd Birthday, America.
242 years ago our forefathers brought unto this continent a new nation, born in liberty and forged in fire and blood. (pardon my paraphrasing Abe). They did it in writing, and then signed their names to the bottom of it.
“It” was the Declaration of Independence. And many of you may have read or studied it either on your own or in school. I’m not sure that is being done too much any more, so, if I may, I’d like to share it with you here.
Please, take this time to quiet down a little. You’ll notice that breakfast hasn’t been served yet, although coffee and juice has. There are also boxes of tissue placed strategically around in case you feel the need.
Now, it had been months and months of writing this document, arguing over almost every word, each delegate wanting something different put in there for their people. Philadelphia was miserable in the summer heat and they didn’t have air conditioning. (That alone will keep me from ever time traveling to an unindustrialized place). They could open windows and hope and pray for a cross-breeze, but they wore too many damn clothes to even hope that that would help much.
But finally they had it and on July 4, 1776 they started signing and making it official. Some of them didn’t get to sign until much later, very few of them signed it right up front.
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
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.
Okay King George, we’re as good as you are and we are raising ourselves up to the same level and separating ourselves from you, and here’s why…
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. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. That is one long-assed sentence, and I didn’t want to interrupt so let me say here that what that says to me is that look, you guys work for us. When you start pulling shit we don’t like it’s time for you to go! Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; Yeah, if you’ve been a good and loyal employee of “We The People” then we should think twice before kicking you out, but otherwise…. and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. To quote Popeye: “That’s all I can stands and I can’t stands no more!” The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
God, this is sounding pretty fucking familiar.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: Man, that one hasn’t changed!
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever. Isn’t that what a Presidential Decree is?
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people. Wait a minute! Read that last one again! Why aren’t we paying attention!!!!!
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends. We’ve asked, we’ve begged, we’ve pleaded, we’ve threatened and now we’re acting.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. To quote Charlie Daniels: “You’ve gone and laid your hands on a Pittsburgh Steelers Fan!”— And 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. And there’s the line that always sends shivers up my spine, “Our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor. How many of us today are willing to do the same?
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
I read the above to Mrs. Dragon and couldn’t keep the tears out of my voice and out of my eyes.
I ask you again, how many of us are willing, today, to give Our Lives, Our Fortunes, and Our Sacred Honor? Do we even know what that means?
Let me share with you now, the message we received at work from our Secretary of the Air Force:
242 years ago, the Declaration of Independence established a new republic, inscribing a foundation of unalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We join together to celebrate this momentous achievement, and remember the tremendous risks and sacrifices of our first patriots to secure freedom for all of us who followed.
The first battles for independence inaugurated a proud tradition of American resolve and dedication to our founding principles. We cherish the memory and valor of citizens and families past and look to their example as we carry this heritage forward. As an Air Force, we do so in defense of air, space, and cyber domains unfathomable in 1776, but which comprise vital arenas for our Nation’s security today.
While we celebrate our Nation’s independence with our friends and families, we take the time to remember the importance of duty and sacrifice, embodied by our brothers and sisters standing watch around the world on our behalf. Few can claim the privilege of serving our Nation in uniform …we do so with pride, integrity, and a single-minded devotion to advancing this venerated legacy.
We are honored to stand beside you, and wish you a happy Independence Day.
Heather Wilson David L. Goldfein
Secretary of the Air Force General, USAF
Chief of Staff
Kaleth O. Wright
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force
Very nicely said, Ma’am.
And with that my friends, I’m going to end this and pass on my best wishes to all of you for a happy and safe Independence Day, with all our Love from our Dragon Laffs and Leprechaun Laffs Family to yours.