Today is Independence Day. This is a day meant for celebration and recognition of our freedom as a nation. I wonder what John Adams or Samuel Adams would think of the recent actions in Washington.
These past couple of weeks have been busy ones for our president and the Supreme Court Justices. We have seen the governor and law enforcement agencies of Arizona be told that they cannot enforce a law that is severely affecting their state's economy. We have been told that the Affordable Health Care Act is a tax not a mandate. Both of these leave me just a bit confused.
First, it is my understanding that the federal and state governments operate within a system of parallel sovereignty, both individually and as a whole, and as such each is a sovereign jurisdiction. According to the dictionary, sovereignty is the exclusive right to exercise supreme political (e.g. legislative, judicial, and/or executive) authority over a geographic region, group of people, or oneself." In a democracy, sovereignty is considered to reside with the individual citizens." So, the Supreme Court Justices upheld part of Arizona's law, but struck down the other parts. The President signed an Executive Order declaring that the Federal Immigration Law be ignored - in some cases. But, today is Independence Day - let's celebrate!
Secondly, we have been told that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. If that's the case, then why were we sold on the idea that the Affordable Health Care Act would contain a mandate, but when the Supreme Court's Justice Roberts gave his decision he said it was Constitutional because it was a tax. Call it what you want, today is Independence Day - let's celebrate.
What does Independence Day mean anyway? John Adams, our second President explained this in a letter he wrote to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776. (Exact text from his letter with his original spellings):
"The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not." (The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784, Harvard University Press, 1975, 142).
President Adams knew the price that had been paid for our freedom. He wasn't looking for loopholes or political gain. He wasn't being divisive, he called it what it was - a great event that was paid for with the blood of those who had died and those yet to die.
When we are constantly given a handout, we will eventually forget how to be happy with a mere hand-up. When we are constantly told that it is the government's job to take care of us, we will stop trying to take care of ourselves. When we can stay home and have our basic needs of food, shelter and medical care taken care of, why would we want to do anything else? If this is independence, I would like to know from whom or what. Living off of Government handouts is not independence - it is dependence.
Samuel Adams said: "If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."
I am not suggesting that anyone take a knee and lick the hands of our Congress, the president or the Supreme Court Justices, but I am suggesting that the tranquility of servitude is not independence. The meaning of Independence Day has not changed from what it was back in the days of John and Samuel Adams. They were Patriots, not government lackeys or slaves of the system.
We will celebrate Independence Day across this country today. We will celebrate those who fought for our freedom and those who continue to fight today and those who will fight tomorrow and years to come. Let's not dishonor those who have fought so bravely by giving up and giving in to elected officials whose sole purpose is to take care of us. That's our job. It's Independence Day - let's celebrate.
Vicki D. Westling is a Dunkirk resident, a published author and an advocate for children and freedom. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org