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Strong words from the Revolution, some see as fitting description of modern times

Some of the strong language found in the Declaration of Independence: "He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people."

NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS

By DAVID CHRISTY | Enid News & Eagle, Okla. | Published: July 8, 2017

“He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.”

Strong words, these.

Did they come from Frenchmen in June 1940, when Adolph Hitler’s Nazi war machine occupied France when the Fuhrer’s tanks rolled down the Champs-Élysées?

Or, are they translated words from Old English, when Viking kings and raiders ravaged the British Isles those many years ago, before Britain became one of the world’s super powers because of its army and navy?

Maybe it was the words from Southerners, who were in the path of William Tecumseh Sherman’s blue-clad Union Army, that cut the Confederate States of America in half on his infamous March to the Sea?

It was more than a little disturbing this week, as we leave yet another fireworks-filled Fourth of July behind, that still many Americans of all stripes are so uninformed about how this nation actually began — how this nation was forged in fire and death and rebellion.

At the words from a truly unique historical document.

National Public Radio tweeted out the exact text of the Declaration of Independence, and some took it as a political statement and radical call against the current administration.

Sad, but when was the last time you actually read this nation’s founding document from first to last word?

Too many Americans obviously never have.

It is an extraordinarily powerful and rebellious document, one that is somewhat restrained in its tone, and yet powerfully revolutionary at the same time.

The Declaration was the American Colonies telling its parent they were tired of being treated as teenagers, they wanted to go off on their own, they wanted to make decisions for themselves, they didn’t want a king or a queen or a Parliament telling them — from across the ocean — what to do.

Kids who do that today are called rebellious.

Well, Americans were just as rebellious as those French and Russian peasants who forced bloody revolutions on their leaders years ago — albeit in different ways than did the 13 Colonies.

Obviously, since I’ve given you the answer already as to the quote in the first paragraph, this line comes directly out of the Declaration of Independence.

And, the line is a strong one among many, many lines in the document’s text that take exception with King George III, British Parliament and British arrogance.

And let’s be clear, the American Colonies were an immensely valuable part of Great Britain — one of the major colonies the British Empire set up and controlled across the globe, from India to Canada to Australia and points in between.

Nations like France, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands tried their hand in empire building, but it was the British who mastered it.

Boy, did they master it.

Only the Roman Empire comes close to what Great Britain did — a tiny rocky island in the North Atlantic, locked in by roiling, cold and stormy seas.

While the British Empire certainly is not what it was in the days of 1776, it has not disintegrated like the old Roman Empire did — falling apart of its own weight and the tyranny of its Caesars.

“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.”

We take these famous words from the opening of the Declaration of Independence for granted every day.

Oh, we shoot off fireworks before, after and on the Fourth of July, we party and picnic, we go to lakes, we consume a lot of beer and tea, we ooh and we aah at pyrotechnic displays at ballparks and public parks across this nation.

But, like Memorial Day and Thanksgiving Day, we seem to have lost much of our historical perspective. We have lost the focus our Founding Fathers had in 1776.

I still find people who think that the American Revolution began with this document, in the year 1776.

The revolution had begun in 1775, on Lexington and Concord Green.

Weapons had been raised against King George III, powder had been burned, blood had been spilled.

The war had commenced before the 13 Colonies actually were ready for war, as many wars do.

The eloquent words weren’t there yet. They take time to formulate, and the Founders had to come together after the smoke cleared a bit, and put them to parchment.

The Declaration of Independence codified all the wrongs American colonists felt toward Great Britain.

Our Revolution was new thinking, it was revolutionary thinking, it was a remarkable idea I fear we lose touch with more with each day that passes from that July Fourth those many years ago.

Christy is news editor at the Enid News & Eagle. Visit his column blog at www.tinyurl.com/Column-Blog.

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©2017 the Enid News & Eagle (Enid, Okla.)
Visit the Enid News & Eagle at www.enidnews.com
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