John Rung, President and CEO
This weekend a lot of folks around the country (and particularly in my neighborhood) will be blowing up stuff in their backyards. As they are, no doubt, well aware, they do this to celebrate the ratification of the Declaration of Independence.
The colonial army had already been battling the British for a year, and the war would go on for another seven years. The document was actually finished on July 2, but was ratified two days later. Thus, for the last 240-plus years, the Fourth of July is the day we celebrate American Independence.
The majority of the Declaration of Independence was drafted by Thomas Jefferson, although it was edited first by the Committee of Five and then by the Colonial Congress. One factoid has always fascinated me: Ben Franklin did not have much input into the document, but he did make one key edit. Jefferson originally opened the draft with “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable …” Franklin replaced “sacred and undeniable” with “self-evident.” Not sure why I get such a kick out of that.
For me, Independence Day signifies courage. The majority of the Founding Fathers were prosperous citizens. They literally staked everything, including their lives, on the formation of a new democracy. That type of courage is severely lacking, and sorely needed, in the politics of today.