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July 2, 2011

Perhaps it's because of our complete lack of knowledge of history, or maybe we are just too removed from the original event, or maybe we're just too unconcerned or too busy with how busy life is now. Probably it's a combination of all of these. Whatever the reason, we've forgotten just how special our country is, and how monumental that moment in 1776 when 56 men - many of great means - signed a document that began "When in the course of human events¦" and ended with the prophetic words "..with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor". They had, in the eyes of England, committed treason, and most would suffer terribly for it.

Now, 235 years later, we just don't get the earthquake our Declaration unleashed upon the world. Possibly at no other time in history had just the right men been gathered in just the right place at just the right time for a brand new way of thinking - that we didn't need a King, or a top-down government of any kind. Unexpectedly, men all of a sudden thought they could govern themselves! What were they thinking?

The answer is in that last sentence, and woven throughout the Declaration, then the Constitution, and explained in the Federalist Papers: " of Divine Providence". It was the most radical thought since Christ, and even echoed His own message - that our rights don't come from men, they come from God. But that was not all of the departure from historical political thought. These men had the audacity to propose that man - each man - had intrinsic worth in and of himself, and moreover, that he could choose his own government. "Self evident truths", they said. "All men are created equal", they said. That must have made the King squirm. On top of all that, they, a country without any military, openly defied the greatest government on earth with the greatest military. Reliance on Divine Providence was the truth! They knew if they were right, God would help them persevere. If not, well, remember that "...Lives...Fortunes, and...Sacred Honor" part? Yes, they knew the odds, and they knew the possible outcome. But they had faith, and they were committed to "each other".

We have forgotten all that.

But, history has a way of reminding us - in our case every July - and this time it seems the stakes are higher that at any time in my lifetime. The Republic those 56 men gave us included the right of each of us to influence the direction our country would take, and they openly expressed their faith that "the people", while at times might sleep, would eventually return the country to its proper tracks. What a monumental time in history - both then, and now.

So, celebrate! We've been here longer than anyone would have guessed, and we've weathered mistakes, disastrous events, wrong-headed leaders, and yes, a few major traitors along the way - but we're still here. How much longer will we survive? As long as we still have " of Divine Providence"!

As you take time off from work to eat with friends, spend time with yourfamily, travel, or whatever you do, take a few minutes and think of those 56 who gave so much - some all they had and then some - and offer a prayer of thanks to the Providence who has preserved our Country. While you're at it, commit yourself to do what our Founders relied upon - to pay attention, and not forget.

Happy Independence Day, and thank you Lord for your Divine Protection, and for the Country we call The United States of America!!


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