Our Declaration 2008
July 4th 2008|
It may be the last July 4th party we would have at my parents home
overlooking Lake Union in Seattle Washington. The place has probably
been sold, and the whole family will be moving to different places
around the country or even the world.
I have been wanting to keep peoples mind on the reason for the 4th of
July holiday foremost for the celebration. So, I decided that we would
do a reading of The Declaration of Independence. I searched the web for
the text and printed it out.
As I read it over - once again I was overwhelmed by the passion and
commitment within those few short pages.
I worked out a division of ten approximately equal or at least logical
parts to be read aloud by the guests at our party. My plan was to have
the reading shortly before the fireworks show started on Lake Union.
We had Red, White & Blue punch, A Red, White and Blue cake. We had best
patriotic music playing on the stereo. We had a large military US flag
hanging from two separate balconies overlooking the lake, as well as our
state flag of Washington hanging between.
Almost all of our guests were wearing red, white and blue. and as we
settled into party mode I mentioned that we would have a reading of the
Declaration of Independence before the fireworks show, and if they would
like to be part of the reading they were all invited.
I did not choose whom would read until just moments before I handed out
the copies of the Declaration.
The surprises started then - everyone read with a voice I had not
expected to hear. Some who had been sitting - stood up to do their
section of the reading, others slowed down their speed and enunciated
every word, another - a very mild mannered widow - who seemed to me a
bit frail, read her section with a voice I could have imagined was from
Ethyl Merman. Everyone read their parts as if it belonged to them.
Everyone read with obvious respect and a heightened force than their
normal speaking voice - no one made any side comments or jokes and
everyone tried to make sure they were reading from the intent of the
Since I was the one who handed out the copies - I kept the last
paragraph for myself - but as I started reading I choked up and became
misty and though it is only a few short sentences, I was shaking a bit
and almost crying by the time I made it to the part where I read ... we
mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred
Everyone was still for a moment - then, about half of the people in the
room said simultaneously - God Bless America!
The room was full of many generations, many backgrounds, many political
persuasions, and very different income levels - yet we all felt the
importance of the July 4th 1776 Declaration - the risk those 56 men had
put on the line and we all felt the promise of the great experiment of
Will it make any difference that I tried to focus for a few moments only
a few peoples hearts and minds on the reason we have a holiday and watch
millions of dollars worth of fireworks sent up for our entertainment?
I can only hope that the ripple effect of this little pebble in the pond
of our party will keep us all aware of what it takes to keep honest
patriotism alive and well.
By Leslie Clement
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