07/02/11 — Celebrate courage: Words of freedom stir hearts today as profoundly as they did in 1776

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Celebrate courage: Words of freedom stir hearts today as profoundly as they did in 1776


It is a word that has so many meanings for so many people.

It is a sign of adulthood, the chance to make your own way.

It is a sign of resolve, the determination to make decisions that are right, just and of your own mind, not at the direction of someone else.

It is a sign of courage, the mark of someone who stands up for what he or she believes in, no matter what the cost.

And those meanings for the word all stem, in part, from the story of a ragtag group of new settlers who wanted the chance to set their own course, to create their own destiny.

They decided that it was worth the chance to have their own country, their own government and the ability to make their own rules to take on an army that was considered one of the best in the world.

They gathered as simple men and men of means to create militias to stand up for their desire to be self-governed and self-determined. They took great risks to fight for their cause and to claim the right to create a new country with a whole new set of goals and rules.

They were the patriots who sat down with a piece of paper and created the Declaration of Independence, letting one and all know that this new nation would be one that guaranteed the rights of a free people.

It was a wonderful experiment that turned into centuries of a country where the dream of freedom became a reality.

So as we celebrate this Independence Day, we should celebrate courage in all forms. We should honor those who have created their own paths and those who have been leaders in creating a better world.

We should remember the men and women who, for decades, have dedicated their lives to protecting the freedoms we cherish and who fight today, as they have always, with the American flag as their standard.

And we should honor those who do not let their limitations stop them -- economic, physical or psychological -- and who strive to best the expectations others have for them. They are the future -- the new explorers, adventurers and scholars -- the newest sort of patriots.

And after all that, we should think about what it takes to build a nation and to create a flag that has 50 stars representing 50 states and 13 stripes that remind us of courage of those original colonies who decided they would fight not only for themselves, but for the generations to come.

So take the time on this Fourth of July weekend to read some of their words, their calls to fight and their dreams for their new country. You will be surprised at just how relevant their thoughts are today as they were back then.

Read the Declaration of Independence and think about the day in 1776 when free men decided to determine their own destiny and signed a paper declaring so.

And last but not least, as you watch the fireworks Monday, realize that the flag that waves overhead and the songs that will swell as the colors burst above you, are a tribute to liberty and testament to what men can do if they join forces and think big.

Happy Fourth of July weekend.

Published in Editorials on July 2, 2011 10:56 PM