I’ve always wanted to attend a traditional Independence Day celebration, so I wrote one in to my science fiction thriller, The Hidden Truth. As you celebrate today’s holiday, kindly remember to lift bottle or glass in honor of our founding fathers, our comrades, our friends and family, and all the others who have pledged their Lives, their Fortunes, and their Sacred Honor in the cause of liberty.
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Dad stepped up on a stump, and held up his hands to silence the crowd. “I want to thank you all for joining us on this fine Independence Day.”
“Can’t keep me away from your barbeque!” came a cry from the crowd.
“Well, y’all should know there’s no such thing as a free lunch!” he exclaimed back, “So quiet down, and listen up! Legend has it that ‘Robber Dell’ is where the Unionists hid their horses when the Confederate raiders swept through these hills. The place had fallen into some disrepair. I can’t imagine a more appropriate proprietor for this spread than my brother.” Dad got some chuckles.
“John Adams said that Independence Day should 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 got the games, sports, and guns well underway. Now’s the time for the show where we ‘solemnize with pomp.’ Being a most unpompous sort myself,” that drew more good-natured chuckles, “I’m going to turn the stump over to our host to remind us all what we’re celebrating here today. Rob?”
Dad stepped down, and Uncle Rob stepped up on the stump. “I want to thank my big brother not just for that introduction, but also for introducing me to Sherman. I haven’t been here long, and I’m grateful so many of you have honored me with your friendship. I appreciate y’all spending your valuable time to gather here today.
“Some of us take liberties like these for granted: the right to assemble, the right to speak our minds, the right to have a say in how we’re governed. It hasn’t always been that way. A couple hundred years ago some folks just like you and me got fed up with being pushed around and oppressed by tyranny. They joined together, and they resolved to send a message to tyrants then, now, and in the future: a message that would never be forgotten, a message that goes like this.” Rob pulled out a sheet of paper.
“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.”
It was uncanny how Uncle Rob’s voice quieted the rowdy crowd.
“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.
I’d read Jefferson’s words before and since, but never did they have more meaning to me than that day, spoken aloud by my uncle. It was easy to imagine a patriot of old standing on a stump in a clearing informing friends and neighbors who’d gathered to hear the latest news from Philadelphia.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; 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.”
The crowd became more lively, punctuating the recitation with boos and hisses as Uncle Rob recited the list of tyrannies, and with cheers as he described our rights and independence. Finally, he concluded:
“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!”
The crowd burst out with sustained cheers and applause. When they quieted down, Uncle Rob continued. “As we’re celebrating here this fine day, kindly remember to lift bottle or glass in honor of our founding fathers, our comrades, our friends and family, and all the others who have pledged their Lives, their Fortunes, and their Sacred Honor in the cause of liberty.” He took a swig from his bottle as did many in the crowd. “I am informed,” Uncle Rob continued, “that the barbeque is ready to be served. If you’d like to get an early start, head on up to my new pad. Otherwise, please carry on with the fun and games.”