In America, we celebrate the 4th of July and not April 15th, because, in America, we celebrate our independence from the government and not our dependence on it.
And so we celebrate Independence Day 2019.
Growing up, I thought of our Founders almost like superheroes — larger than life. As the son of a small-town pastor and a part-time bookkeeper, I was not able to travel much so my first visit to Independence Hall in Philadelphia came later in life. It was almost like entering the Hall of Justice in the television show “Super Friends.”
Standing inside the hall and looking at the chairs and desks, it dawned on me that these were ordinary people who did something extraordinary. These patriots didn’t just risk their political careers or their business interests to declare our independence and form a new nation. They actually risked their lives.
The Declaration of Independence ends by saying: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
After signing the Declaration, Benjamin Franklin reportedly stated that “we must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately.” The Founders of our country were taking no small risk to establish a nation based on liberty.
With these words, they declared to the world our independence:
“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.”
The preamble continues:
“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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
The Second Continental Congress actually passed the resolution establishing the United States of America on July 2, 1776, but the public declaration was made on July 4th of that year.
At the time of the Declaration, the Continental Colors (also known as the Union Jack Flag) was the flag. It consisted of 13 alternating red and white stripes with the upper inner corner resembling the British Union Flag. It had been adopted on Dec. 3, 1775.
Then, the Second Continental Congress passed the Flag Resolution on June 14, 1777, saying:
“Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
Early on, there were many forms of the new flag. Some had the 13 stars scattered over the blue field while others had the stars in a circle (commonly called the Betsy Ross flag).
Today, the 13 red and white stripes on the flag remain (representing the original colonies), but the field of blue is filled with 50 white stars (representing the current states).
For many Americans like myself and to people around the world, our flag represents Freedom. It is insulting when people speak out against it (particularly without regard to the facts).
Maybe Colin Kaepernick and the management at Nike should take a course in basic American history. Better yet, maybe they should talk to the thousands of veterans and service members across America who fought and still fight today for the very principles represented by that flag.
Which is why the actions of Nike this week were so bizarre. It is bad enough that they choose to cancel the shoes based solely on concerns raised by Mr. Kaepernick. What makes it worse is the fact that they thought it was a good idea to tell the world that they canceled the shoe and why they canceled the shoe.
Luckily for them, they live in a country where the U.S. Constitution protects their right to be ignorant and their right to talk about their ignorance. But it doesn’t mean we have to purchase their products.
Happy Independence Day, America!
• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him @ScottWalker.
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