Independence day. Liberty enlightening the world

Tomorrow is Independence Day. It’s the day we celebrate the exceptionally courageous actions of 56 men who, 243 years ago, pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to declare the American colonies free and independent states. What they accomplished that hot summer in Philadelphia took enormous politicking, selflessness and cooperation — 56 delegates from 13 separate colonies were able to put aside stark differences and band together to sign the Declaration of Independence.

Nearly seven years of fighting followed that act of rebellion before the Treaty of Paris was signed, thereby ending the Revolutionary War and recognizing the sovereignty of a new nation. Since that time, how our nation has grown. The promise of this new land — created of, by and for its people, disdainful of kings, and celebrating individual liberty — beckoned people from across the world. They came for political freedom, religious tolerance and economic opportunity. Some came freely with hopes and dreams of starting a new life. Some were brought here unwillingly to make others rich. But however they arrived, the sweat and labor of the many quickly built this into the most prosperous nation the world has ever known.

Whatever one’s grievances today, surely we all can agree there’s plenty that’s right with America. In fact, there are more than 325 million reasons why America is great. We are a nation of people joined together not by a common ancestry, but because of a common belief in everyone’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

On July 4, let’s hold off on the bitter complaints about America’s current crop of politicians, if only for one day. Tomorrow isn’t about them at all. It’s about our Founding Fathers and the world-changing document they signed. In honor of both, we have devoted tomorrow’s Opinions pages to reprinting the Declaration of Independence and the writings and speeches of the era.

— Robin Beres

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