“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
- The United States Declaration of Independence.
It is a sentence that ranks amongst the most well-known in the English language, a phrase that is ingrained on a nation's consciousness, its sentiment celebrated, its writing revered.
Thomas Jefferson's adroit penmanship has ensured that the Declaration of Independence has stood the test of time.
For that sentence – those 36 words that encapsulate all our Founding Fathers stood for – remain as relevant today, in our studio here in Saunderstown, as they did in 1776, when the document that shaped a nation, its ideals and its attitudes, was signed in Independence Hall, Philadelphia.
You see, equality is as important to us as it was to Jefferson and John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock and the other 52 signatories who inked their names that summer.
Here in Saunderstown, we've never made such a declaration, never authored anything like Jefferson's much-admired manuscript, but if ever we tried, one thing is for certain: such qualities, such words as liberty, equality, life and happiness, all would figure, their placing prominent.
For who doesn't crave such things? Who doesn't aspire to such ideals?
The pursuit of such values seems like an obvious ambition, but until 1776, until Jefferson and Hancock, Adams et al, no-one had ever communicated them quite like this.
Perhaps it's because of it's simplicity, perhaps it's because of it's perceptiveness.
Regardless of reason, the Declaration still resonates today, in 2011. Some 235 years since its signing, it's still guiding us, still showing the right path.
It speaks of things to which we all aspire and, for that reason alone, it proved the perfect springboard for our nation.
The States that the Declaration established are, after all, United.
Or, to use another word, 'Connected'.
“It was intended to be an expression of the American mind,” Jefferson explained of a document that, in establishing the guiding principles for a new nation, bound everyone in it together, establishing ideals and beliefs, a standard, a code, a connection.
Have you ever thought about how this piece of paper connects us all? In this, of all weeks, it is something that ought to be considered.
There are more than 311 million people in the United States today. How many of them do you suppose did not celebrate Independence Day, and, by extension, the Declaration, the words and the principles of Jefferson and his peers? Not a lot, we'd wager, so strong is its connective power.
From the White House to Wisconsin, from East to West, young and old, rich and poor, black and white, millions upon millions became as one, the cause common, the cause shared.
John Adams – then just plain John Adams, but later to become President Adams – predicted as much in a letter to his wife, Abigail, penned in July, 1776, just prior to signing the Declaration.
“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival,” he wrote. “It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance … It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
We're not sure what you did on Monday, but it seems to us, here in Saunderstown, that he got it right, his insight almost as impressive as the document that inspired it, the document that inspired a nation, a document that continues to inspire, that continues to connect.
We hope you enjoyed The Fourth as much as we did and we hope, like us, you're invigorated by this subject, by the Declaration, it's aims and ideals, it's hope, it's principles and it's never-ending search for common humanity.
Here in our studio, we stand for equality, with no care for color or creed, no regard for race or religion.
We cherish life and we value our liberty and we are always, always engaged in the pursuit of happiness.