From every mountanside, let freedom ring

  • Published
  • By Col. Lansen Conley
  • 82nd Training Wing Vice Commander
It is the Fourth of July, again! 

And I just did an unusual thing. I read our Declaration of Independence. This is not my normal Fourth of July activity. 

Most of my Fourth of Julys have been spent at family gatherings, outdoor activities, resting from a life far too hectic and, of course, watching fantastic fireworks displays.
But read the Declaration of Independence? No, that is the forced homework of a bad history class. In fact, as much as I hate to admit it, I don't recall ever reading the entire document. 

Sad isn't it? 

Yes, I was awake in class when we covered the most famous lines of the Declaration. "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." 

Absolutely great truths! But that is only a few of the 93 lines. What about the other 1,302 words? What do they say? 

To avoid flashbacks of previous painful history lessons, let's say they were a list of "Facts" (complaints) "submitted to a candid world" against the King of Great Britain. The Declaration lists 18 "repeated injuries and usurpations" the King used to establish an "absolute Tyranny over these States." 

It also said the King subjected the colonists to "jurisdiction foreign to our constitution," including 10 violations of basic laws like taxes without consent, suspending the legislatures and depriving people of trial by jury. 

So Congress said the British King left them no choice but to "solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do." 

Hence the birth of the USA! 

However, as a member of the United States Air Force, it is the last line of the Declaration of Independence that I appreciate the most. The 56 signatories made their most solemn pledge to defend this infant nation called the United States of America. 

"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." 

We make a similar pledge when we take our Air Force oaths to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Thomas Jefferson, the primary writer of the Declaration of Independence, said, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." 

You are doing an outstanding job providing that vigilance ... thank you!