Editorial – An important history lesson

Published 5:50 pm Tuesday, June 27, 2023

We’re just as excited as the kiddos about the fireworks shows in Isle of Wight County this weekend. Look for us on the Pagan when Smithfield’s show begins at 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

Yet, if we were to recommend just one local commemoration of Independence Day, we’d suggest rounding up the family and heading to the 1750 Isle of Wight Courthouse on Main Street in Smithfield for a public reading of the Declaration of Independence at 6:30 p.m. Sunday. 

From its second paragraph, the document eloquently states the principles that have guided the world’s greatest democratic experiment, one not without its flaws and shortcomings but that has defied long odds and remains resilient even as new threats arise daily.

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When our forefathers severed ties with England in 1776, it was a declaration of war for which the signers paid dearly. They enunciated this inspiring principle, the words of which are as true today as they were then:


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.  


Next Tuesday, America will celebrate the 247th anniversary of the document that served as the prelude to the establishment of our government. While all of us can find fault with certain government leaders and policies, few of us, if pressed, would trade our system for any other in the world.

For more than two centuries, the United States has been an example of freedom, self-government and justice. If they were still around to assess their creation, this experiment in self-government has likely succeeded far beyond the wildest expectations of our nation’s founders.

But let us not be complacent. We must remain vigilant against forces of oppression and intolerance. We must not stop striving to become a better version of ourselves. Freedom must be exercised and defended by those who enjoy it.

Happy Independence Day.