Big things have small beginnings. Anyone who’s planted a seed in the soil and watched it grow knows this. The California redwood, also known as the sequoia, is one of the largest trees on Earth. It can grow up to 379 feet, with a 26-foot diameter. You could drive a car through the center of one. Some of these trees can live to be more than 1,800 years old. To stand next to one is to be both dwarfed and awed by nature. Yet, the seeds these trees grow from are about the size of a flake of oatmeal, smaller than a dime.
The largest of things can have the tiniest of origins.
On July 4, 1776, 56 men ratified the Declaration of Independence, which notified the British Empire of the injustices perpetrated against the colonists in violation of their “inalienable rights,” and from that day forward, the colonies would be a collection of “united states.” It was a bold move, made by a collection of what was seen as backwater colonies an ocean away from London, the center of the most powerful empire in the world.
And yet that document sparked a revolution, and now, next Thursday, we’ll celebrate the 237th birthday of the United States of America, the greatest nation in the world, and a shining example of freedom and justice and democracy.
Like most Americans, I’ll be celebrating this Fourth of July surrounded by family and friends. It’s a joyous occasion as we recognize how lucky we are to live in a country where freedom is a reality, and not just a dream. Local towns will hold parades. Fireworks will be shot off. It’s a wonderful holiday, an opportunity to show how much we value the country we call home.
The Fourth of July is a time for celebration, to gather around loved ones, fire up the grill and hand the kids sparklers and poppers (with adult supervision, of course). Amidst the revelry, though, take a moment to really ponder what it is we commemorate every year—not just the birth of our nation, but the birth of what was at the time a new ideal, that all men are equal, that we’re all given inalienable rights, and the power of the government should come from the governed. These are noble beliefs. They changed the world.
More than just that, the Declaration of Independence created the moral center of our nation, the ideal towards which we still strive, and will continue striving. Freedom, independence, liberty, these are not gifts simply handed to us by our Founding Fathers. Rather, each generation is charged with protecting those rights, with defending them so that those who come after us may also know what it means to truly live in a free nation.
Page 2 of 2 - It’s important to remember, however, that the Declaration of Independence was only that—a declaration, a signaling to the British Empire that the American colonies would no longer tolerate the usurpations of its citizens’ rights. It was words on a page, and though they were beautiful words, revolutionary words, world-changing words, they were still just that, words. It took the shedding of blood, and the loss of countless lives, to truly earn our independence.
But it began with that historic document. It was the spark. It was the seed.
Always feel free to contact me throughout the year with any comments, questions, or issues by calling my office at (573) 751-5713 or by visiting my website at www.senate.mo.gov/brown.
Thank you for reading this and for your participation in state government.