By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist
Some 14 years ago, Ike Rucker, Marty Russell and a few other local veterans got together and organized a parade that’s held every July 4 in the Smithville section of Galloway Township.
According to their official website, www.galloway4thofjulyparade.com, they wanted to get young people involved and teach them to understand, honor, and respect people who served in our military. They chose to do this on July 4, rather than Memorial Day or Veterans Day, to associate military service with our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
Over the years, the Galloway parade on Independence Day grew into the largest in New Jersey. This year, our LibertyAndProsperity.org group and about 1,000 others marched the mile-long parade route along Smithville and Quail Hill boulevards, while more than 6,000 people, young and old, lined the sidewalks.
The Parade Program Book announced that I would be one of the speakers at the ceremony after the parade at the Village Greene in Smithville. I was to discuss the Declaration of Independence. I was told to be brief, so I carefully prepared these remarks , which could be delivered in three minutes:
“Let us not forget, that on this day, 236 years ago, 56 men, representing 13 British colonies in America met in Philadelphia, and signed the Declaration of Independence. This is the document that created our nation. Five of those men were from New Jersey. One was Richard Stockton.
“In the last sentence of that document, just above their signatures, those 56 men mutually pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. That was no exaggeration. The moment they signed that document, each of those 56 men committed the crime of treason against the British government. The penalty at that time was not only a “cruel and unusual” traitor’s death, but also the seizure of all property. It also included “attainder” – the punishment and impoverishment other family members including wives and children.
“It took eight years of war, hunger, and suffering to make their declaration a reality. Most of those 56 men did lose everything.
“Years later, Abraham Lincoln remarked that this Declaration of Independence did much more than simply separate us from our mother country.
“According to Lincoln our Declaration recognized that while we and our fellow Englishmen shared the same language, history, and culture, we Americans had a unique understanding and love of certain basic principles of liberty that nobody else in the world had.
“But on July 4, 1776, we Americans declared that we had a unique understanding and love of certain basic principles of liberty that were not shared by our fellow Englishmen, or anyone else in the world.
“We Americans alone held these truths to be self-evident: That each one of us is created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights.
“That among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, we institute governments which derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.
“That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, we the people have the right to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles.”
“These words were unanimously agreed to by those 56 men who represented each of the 13 colonies in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776.
“One month later, the legislature of the newly independent state of New Jersey met, and chose a new symbol for our state. That symbol depicted two ladies standing side by side. One represented liberty – the other prosperity.
“Back then, almost every American understood that all the wealth, safety, and comfort we enjoyed here were made possible only by our unique culture and government of liberty – something that existed nowhere else in the world.
“Knowing what those first independent Americans did to give us our liberty and prosperity, let us today also pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor to secure that same liberty and prosperity for our children and grandchildren.”
At the last minute, I was told that there was no time for me to make these remarks. More time was needed to discuss the wars in Korea and Vietnam instead.
It is important that we do this. But shouldn’t this be done on Memorial Day or Veterans Day – national holidays set aside for that purpose?
Should we not use Independence Day, July 4, to remind ourselves and our children why our country was created in the first place? Isn’t teaching what makes our American way of life so unique and special the best way for young people to understand why military service is sometimes needed to defend it?
(Reprinted from July 11, 2012 Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, http://www.shorenewstoday.com/snt/news/index.php/politics/27123-independence-day-should-remind-us-why-freedom-is-worth-defending.html)
Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman appears on 92.1FM 8-9 a.m. Saturday. For information see www.libertyandprosperity.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (609) 927-7333. Breakfast discussions are held 9:30-10:30 a.m. every Saturday at the Shore Diner on Fire and Tilton roads in Egg Harbor Township.
(Image Source – http://ohiok.com/img/yourspacecooment/meredo/4th/independence-day-7.gif)