“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.”
Famous words, seen in actuality today on a rare 1776 broadside copy of the Declaration of Independence…a moving moment for those of us at the Opening Ceremony at the Arizona Historical Society (AHS), 949 E. 2nd St. These words are quoted often in civil rights cases and in discussion of issues as to how we Americans choose to pursue our goals of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Read the entire text here.
But it is also a reminder of what tremendous effort (and war) it took to sever ourselves as 13 Colonies from Great Britain, in such a strong declaration of freedom and independence. As our founding fathers said– “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” And that is what they eloquently did in this Declaration at the 2nd Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
These lofty and enduring words have been the foundation of our United States of America since July 4, 1776, over 233 years ago. And these words will stand as the fiber of our Nation into the 21st Century and beyond.
You can still view this copy which I first wrote about on Feb. 18 (click here) at the AHS– museum hours are till 8 p.m. tonight, and tomorrow Feb. 22, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. This will be your only chance to see this 2 day traveling exhibit in Tucson. Admission is free.
Notables at today’s opening ceremony: U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, former Governor Raul Castro, Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup, Oro Valley Mayor Paul Loomis, Pima County Supervisors Richard Elias and Ray Carroll, State House representatives Steve Farley and Daniel Patterson, former State House rep. Pete Herschberger.
Congresswoman Giffords was instrumental in bringing this historic document to Tucson, and provided the welcoming & closing remarks, as well as “An Historical Perspective”. She also related what occurred later to the 56 brave men who signed the document in July, 1776.
Particularly moving was the video by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (of Arizona) who reminded us that we are a government by the “consent of the governed”, and that this document is a “legacy of our democracy”, and a “priceless treasure of freedom.” This video will be shown throughout the 2 day exhibit.
Note: I’ve seen the signed “original copy” of this Declaration of Independence at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and have lived in Charlottesville,Virginia, home of 3rd President Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of this Declaration. If you’re ever in that part of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I encourage you to visit Monticello, President Jefferson’s lovely estate to learn more about that particular founding father.