Editorial – Important history lesson

Published 6:23 pm Tuesday, June 27, 2023

We’re just as excited as the kiddos about Suffolk’s annual Stars & Stripes Spectacular on Independence Day.

The festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. Constant’s Wharf Park & Marina behind the Hilton Garden Inn, with music by Rocky 7 from 6 to 9 p.m., then fireworks over the Nansemond River at 9 p.m. It’s one of our favorite celebrations of the year in Suffolk.

Amid the fun, we urge our readers to remember the reason we celebrate the Fourth of July. Neighboring Smithfield offers such an opportunity. The volunteers who run the historic 1750 Isle of Wight Courthouse on Main Street will do a public reading of the Declaration of Independence at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, preceding that community’s fireworks after dark. We encourage you to round up friends and family and head 30 minutes north for an entertaining, educational experience. 

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From its second paragraph, the Declaration of Independence eloquently states the principles that have guided the world’s greatest democratic experiment, one not without its flaws and shortcomings but that has defied long odds and remains resilient even as new threats arise daily.

When our forefathers severed ties with England in 1776, it was a declaration of war for which the signers paid dearly. They enunciated this inspiring principle, the words of which are as true today as they were then:

 

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.

 

Next Tuesday, America celebrates the 247th anniversary of the document that served as the prelude to the establishment of our government. While all of us can find fault with certain government leaders and policies, few of us, if pressed, would trade our system for any other in the world.

For more than two centuries, the United States has been an example of freedom, self-government and justice. If they were still around to assess their creation, this experiment in self-government has likely succeeded far beyond the wildest expectations of our nation’s founders.

But let us not be complacent. We must remain vigilant against forces of oppression and intolerance. We must not stop striving to become a better version of ourselves. Freedom must be exercised and defended by those who enjoy it.