As I type this, millions of Americans are preparing picnic baskets and squeezing into swimsuits. They’re packing their cars with coolers and beach chairs, smoothing on sunblock and tanning lotions, and heading out to their favorite parks or beaches and enjoying their holiday — most widely referred to as the Fourth of July. There will be firecrackers and sparklers. Burgers and hot dogs and apple pies. Patriotic music and parades and fireworks.
Yet this holiday is officially “Independence Day.” The birthday of our freedom. The day that we declared ourselves a nation, true and together and independent from foreign control. Sovereign.
Indeed, it is a great holiday, more than worthy of our festive commemoration.
Two hundred thirty-three years ago, when our forefathers declared themselves free, governments of other nations scoffed. The legalities of our declaration and subsequent actions were questioned. “Who are these audacious people? What right do they have to declare themselves autonomous, self-reliant, and self-governing?”
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, 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.
As I type this, millions of Hondurans stand defiant. Like our forefathers centuries ago, Hondurans declared that as a people, as a nation, they refuse to have their freedoms trampled. They, through their government instituted amongst themselves, affirmed their independence from their own King George III.
And the world scoffs. Governments and leagues of governments parse words, question the “legality” of their declaration, isolate the country through economic means, and refuse to accept a decision taken by the elected representatives of the people of a sovereign, pluralistic, and democratic nation. Governments foreign to their own speak of “charters” and “proprieties” while the freedom and the certain unalienable rights of a people stand in the balance.
Indeed, there is much one can argue about some decisions of the Honduran government. There is much one can debate about the course of action taken. There is plenty of fodder for the pedantic and the polemicist. There is ample ammunition for the sophist.
The truth, however, is self-evident.
One need only witness the actions of the people of Honduras. They rallied in support of their elected government and its collective decision to speak the truth from Tegucigalpa to Choluteca and everywhere else in between. Millions of Hondurans exercised their God-given right to live as free individuals, to pursue their happiness and not have their liberties usurped by any power, foreign or domestic. There is no better declaration of independence than the unity of a people for the sake of that independence.
Leagues of governments like the United Nations and the Organization of American States are not the arbiters of the freedom of a people. The purveyor of the freedom of a people is the will of the people. And the Honduran will has spoken plainly, sanely, and with the dignity and strength afforded the Honduran people by their democracy and the rule of law.
As I type this, the Honduran people are defending not just their declaration, but their democracy itself. They fight against collectives with different interests and agendas and ulterior motives. Whether these are assemblies of nations, neighboring enemies, an indifferent media, or standoff-ish “allies,” the Honduran people ask for nothing that was not theirs to begin with: to have the freedom to elect and maintain those in office that are representative of their values and aspirations. To choose, without external influence, what they, as a people, see fit to choose. To keep their democracy alive and intact.
We celebrate our Independence Day with much grandeur across this nation. We commemorate this day with friends and family and fanfare. And as well we should, as that independence, that freedom, has come at great cost. Yet we should recognize, as we flip our burgers and mustard our hot dogs and light our bottle rockets this 4th of July weekend, that along with this freedom of ours — paid for by the sacrifices of generations — comes a responsibility to not only preserve and defend our own liberties and our democracy, but to support those who struggle for their own.
It is our duty to defend, preserve, and support all of those who also hold truths to be self-evident.