A declaration made 232 years ago in Pennsylvania crafted with fewer than 1,500 words scrawled on a piece of parchment is the cornerstone of our identity as a country.
Independence - it's the only thing most of us know and what we take for granted most of all.
We live in a country - as a result of that Fourth of July declaration - that after achieving independence from the British Empire, went on to craft the constitution and 27 amendments to the constitution to ensure equal rights to all people living in our country.
Those rights include freedom of speech and due process. The 13th amendment abolished slavery, and the 19th established a woman's right to vote in the United States.
We have come a long way since the first Continental Congress signed and delivered the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. But do we realize what great duty we have to make it all worth while?
Despite the freedom not to participate that all apathetic Americans enjoy, we have an obligation to take our independence seriously and participate to ensure that we maintain our independence.
Today, as you visit with family and take part in parades and other celebrations, remember why it is we celebrate this day. It's not just another holiday from work - though that is a bonus - it's a symbolic day in American history. On this day, more than 200 years ago our nation was born.
No matter what current problems exist in our country we still live in a nation where we are free to express our displeasure - and we should, because of our duty to uphold our independence.
It would have been nice to print for you, today, the entire Declaration of Independence, but because of lack of space, I'm only going to give you the opening statement of the document.
Today we take the ideas expressed for granted as a way government should be run. But for the world in 1776 these thoughts were definitely on the radical side.
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, - That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
That's a lot to be thankful for today. Have a safe and happy Fourth of July holiday.
Robby Byrd is the editor of The Covington News. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.