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Editorial: Words from 237 years ago still ring true

7:18 PM, Jul. 3, 2013  |  Comments
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"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."

- Declaration of Independence preamble

That sentence is one of the most oft-quoted and eloquent ones in the Declaration of Independence because it lays out the philosophical basis for the Revolutionary War.

And it does so in a way that resonates today with all Americans, young and old.

The Declaration of Independence was adopted 237 years Thursday. It remains one of the most important documents in the United States of America, along with the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Drafted largely by Thomas Jefferson, the document spells out the reasons for independence as well as the principles guiding the colonies in the Revolutionary War. The National Archives calls it "the nation's most cherished symbol of liberty."

All these years later, you can see why.

The principles that "all men are created equal" and that we have "unalienable rights" of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" appeal to anyone who has lived under tyranny or who longs to live in a place where one is free to have opinions, free to move about and whose basic rights are to be protected by the three branches of government.

Thursday, two people who became U.S. citizens within the past year will speak at a ceremony outside the Brown County Courthouse in downtown Green Bay. They worked with Literacy Green Bay tutors and the Road to Citizenship, a collaboration between Literacy Green Bay, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and Catholic Charities.

The essays they wrote illustrate why they wanted to become U.S. citizens. The reasons highlight some things that those of us who have lived our whole lives in this country may take for granted.

"For me, becoming a citizen of the United States is the most important step in my life because now I have the great opportunity to vote, to give my opinion, to express myself, to participate in different activities in my community or for my country," wrote Juliana Diaz, who came to the U.S. from Mexico in March 2004 after her father applied for her and her brother to legally come to the country, "where we can find different opportunities like work, education and many other things for a better life."

That fundamental desire - "for a better life" - has inspired many, from the founders of this country who declared their independence more than 200 years ago to those who come to this country today.

So as we celebrate Independence Day, we encourage people to not take their freedom for granted.

We also ask them to remember that simple statement in the preamble of the Declaration of Independence that sets out the standards that we hold dear and the standards that we defend to this day.

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

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