Editor’s Column: What are we celebrating on the Fourth of July?

Why is the Declaration of Independence sprawled across our front page this week? Because before the fireworks and the barbecues and the parades and the flag waving, 56 rebels (that’s not very many people, when you think about it) signed their names on a blatantly seditious document and announced their intent to break from English rule.
Why do we celebrate the Fourth of July? Because those 56 individuals, and their families and friends and many others, took a stand against unrighteousness and oppression by an aristocracy that ruled them from afar, a people who never knew or understood the day to day struggles they were enduring.
It’s been a long while since I read the Declaration of Independence in its entirety. I’m guessing some of our readers have never read it all the way through. If that’s you, I encourage you to read it, and as you dive into your beers and burgers this holiday weekend, remember those 56 rebels who took a stand against what, at the time, was the greatest, most powerful nation on earth. They were lawyers, doctors, career politicians, and farmers. A fair number of them lost everything they held dear in the fight for independence—homes, families, even their lives.
I pray we will never again come to the place where we have to take a stand against a selfish, spoiled ruling class concerned only for their own best interests. I pray the checks and balances woven through our Constitution work as they were intended so that the voice of the people prevails over the voice of the privileged few.
As we wave our sparklers this weekend, remember the price paid by those brave souls who stood up to the King of England in 1776, and keep their words in mind: “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.”
After more than 200 years of independence we’re still trying to figure out how to apply those truths to all our citizens. We shouldn’t, I suppose, be surprised. We’ve been trying to apply “love thy neighbor as thyself”—which is almost the same thing—for 2,000 years, with almost the same results.

Everybody makes mistakes. This week I received a press release from the Department of the Interior quoting “Rio Blanco County Commissioner Geri Byrne.” Um. No. It was tempting to shriek “FAKE NEWS” the way folks like to do these days, but I like to think I’m more mature and gracious than that. (Most of the time, anyway.) I sent the DOI feedback on their official channels to let them know they made a boo-boo.

Have a happy and peaceful holiday, everyone. Drive safely, make wise choices, and be considerate of others while you recreate!