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July 3rd, 2009
09:47 AM ET

Declare what Independence Day Means to YOU

During this holiday weekend, take time to read the Declaration of Independence- all of it.  As you do- tell us- what does independence mean to you?  Who is the most patriotic person you know?

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

 


Filed under: Nicole Lapin • Tony Harris
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. michael armstrong sr.

    this freedom question is known by all veterans who have at one time or another lost there freedom to serve there country when you raise your hand and say I do your government owns you and the great little things that you love in this great country is left behind when you leave the homeland you must loose what you have to love it. I love and respect my country and am verry gratefull for my freedom every one in america should serve there country to really see what its like to loose there freedom this will make you love your homeland three fold .

    July 3, 2009 at 10:14 am |
  2. jeff clark

    like i mentioned ms. Nicole... it was those farmers of Mass., CT, RI, and New Hampshire who, on April 19th 1775 said "enough all ready!" grabbed their musket, powder, 40 rounds of shot, tomahawks, and lined up against the British regulars for their rights...
    for their endeavour they had for certain a British rope around their necks for failure, and uncertainty if they won...

    as for today's biggest Patriot... all Americans are...regardless of where one stands on our significant issues...

    July 3, 2009 at 10:30 am |
  3. Samuel L. Brown,MSW

    The journey of America's freedom, justice, and equality has been long and tedious since 1776. With the support of all Americans, working for peace, unity and a more perfect union, we can all feel like proud defenders as we celebrate America's birthday. God bless America!

    July 3, 2009 at 10:59 am |
  4. Mike from New york

    I can honestly say I never read past the first few lines that we all know. It kind of makes us fools that we say we love our country and are proud to be here when there are people in outher countries who know almost everything about the United States including whats in the Declaration.

    This day means that we as a people should remember that freedom isnt free, it sometimes requires the blood of heros like those who fell fighting off the british and those who fight in the middle east today.

    July 3, 2009 at 11:18 am |
  5. Willie (Gretna, Fl)

    Tony, I think the idea of the Declaration of Independence was great, but July 3, 2009, I feel that it is only about 65% efective. Heck, even the U.S. isn't independent these days!!!

    July 3, 2009 at 11:19 am |
  6. JP

    Thanks for posting this, Tony!

    The Declaration of Independence is a document that should be read at least once every six months by all American citizens. There should be a copy in every American household. Sadly, far too many have never read it or are shamefully unfamiliar with it.

    I feel a well of emotion every time I read it.

    Again, thanks for posting it!

    July 3, 2009 at 11:19 am |
  7. Debb Wells

    The eloquence of Thomas Jefferson in defining the rights of all humanity is remarkable. He speaks for all people, not just those in the 13 colonies, and not just for his own time, but for all time. It should make us all humble and determined to be better than we are, for we are the original and unique society that embraced these ideals, We should, indeed, amend our flaws, strengthen our spirits and uphold and defend what we hold most dear and not just for ourselves alone.

    July 3, 2009 at 11:33 am |
  8. Logan Provo

    Freedom to me is the ultimate sacrafice, because freedom isn't free as we all have heard so many times. It takes men in women like those in Iraq and those in previous wars to achieve this freedom that makes our country so great, I only hope to serve my coutry some day.

    Logan Provo

    July 3, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  9. Amber Krutak

    Because I am a political science major I do read the Dec. of Independence and Constitution a few times a year, and every time I read it I still get goose bumps and am once again amazed at the words that founded our country. Our forefathers had such a beautiful vision for this country and when I read it I am reminded of what America should truly stand for. Unfortunately in our daily lives we forget its meaning and its words (especially a lot of politicians), so for this Independence Day I think every one should slow down and read it and remember what made us Americans.

    July 3, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  10. Donna Ferguson

    Tony thanks for all the great things you do to keep us informed. As the Mother of a Daughter serving in our Military the 4th of July means even more to me than ever. We have seen first hand the sacrifices made by American Soldiers in order to preserve our freedom. Our Daughter entered a war zone leaving behind two small daughters, with pride and honor. She often says "Mama, it's my job." That's what Independence Day means to me.

    Again, may God richly bless you for the great work you do. Happy 4th.

    July 3, 2009 at 11:49 am |
  11. Daniel Ochoa Jr. El Centro CA

    Its about our Freedom we have here in USA & Thanking each of our Veteran Past & present. 4th. is for being around veterans & there familys. Look @ our History. Ps when you see a Veteran / Military Member Thank Them . Have a safe 4th of July peace .

    Daniel Ochoa Jr.
    El Centro CA

    July 3, 2009 at 12:46 pm |
  12. Stan

    It means I will be raiding Newsource for more content.

    July 3, 2009 at 12:48 pm |
  13. Nape Jencka

    It is a fabulous decision on the part of CNN to show the Declaration considering it is a critical part of American history that should not be forgotten

    July 3, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  14. Brian Skillings

    Even though I may only be 14 I have read the Declaration of Independence many many times this year alone and am able to find it and the constitution anytime I wish because I have copies in my bedroom along with many other historic documents.

    July 3, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  15. Charles Robinson

    I am so glad you posted a copy of the Declaration of Independence on your site for people to read. I am a Platoon Sergeant in the US Army and recently made my Soldiers read it so that they truly have a sense of what the American ideal is. I found it shameful that so many who serve our country have never read past the opening lines.

    July 3, 2009 at 12:53 pm |
  16. Rita Nalette

    Independence Day! After all these decades we are still able to celebrate it. The Flag! So proudly does it still wave. Our Constitution! the most powerful living document in the world. At 62 I am still in awe and proud to be a Veteran.

    July 3, 2009 at 12:53 pm |
  17. Wallace D. Johnson, Jr

    I have tears of great pain when I read the Declaration Of Independence. It embodies the selfishness of the people who came here to steal the lands of the Natives and then bring others here to enslave for their own riches. There is nothing to be proud of in this era that I can see. It was a period of lying , stealing, and deciet. This selfish document written in sweet flowery language did not apply to all and it is still unfulfilled today.

    I'm sure CNN won't post this or read it on TV, but here it is anyway.

    July 3, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  18. Stephen Bart

    Independence Day celebrates the day we rebelled against the British, but it was a long bloody war before it came to pass. As a career military man, and a disabled veteran, to me this day honors the sacrifices of those who gave their lives to secure our freedom, and those who still do, without knowing if those sacrifices bore fruit. It is a day when all celebrate their freedoms, and others cry for those we lose every year to secure it.

    Steve
    Rapid City, SD

    July 3, 2009 at 1:00 pm |
  19. Daniel

    Thank You VERY much for posting the "Declaration of Independence". I have to ashamedly admit that I have not read it in years. As a veteran of the US ARMY and grateful American, I am so happy to see that you all cared enough to remind us all of just what the 4th of July is all about. I wonder how many young people in America today even know how the "Declaration of Independence" even begins. Thanks CNN for reminding me of the Cost that our forefathers paid to ensure that we have the freedoms that we have today.
    Daniel

    July 3, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  20. Paul

    Well independence in 1776 meant being free of the oppressive grip of Britain. No Taxation without Representation and all that stuff. Today I wish we were more independent in the sense that we weren't so bound to other countries. We owe money to China, give money to Israel and Pakistan, and have military bases in over 150 countries. I'd like our leaders to spend the weekend reading up on Adams and Jefferson.They could use a lesson in what independence really means.

    The most patriotic person I know is my high school US History teacher, Mr. Karg. Not because he served in Vietnam. Serving in the armed forces doesn't automatically make you a patriot. I say this as a four year Air Force man. Mr. Karg made sure that every student in his classes understood documents like the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. He had such a passion and dedication to making sure we knew how the Senate and House worked. Every person in my class could identify and explain the three branches of our federal government. Most adults in the US today can't.

    July 3, 2009 at 1:12 pm |
  21. Joshua LaFleur

    I have read this document several times. I myself being a major history buff. Politics and history have always been amazing to me. This document's history is one of inspiration and struggle. I can truly say i am proud of what the founding fathers accomplished. They inspired many nations through the revolution. If we had not accomplished this momentus occasion in histroy who knows what this world we live in would be like. The monarchies would still be in absolute unquestionable power. I would have to say one of the most patriotic people in history is John Locke. His history is one that is not very well known. He is the true father of the ideals America holds dear. He wrote the Treaties of Government which outline our unalienable rights and what government is like and how is should be instigated. People in our world would learn well by reading John Locke's works

    July 3, 2009 at 1:14 pm |
  22. starr- santa fe, nm

    We should never forget what our forefathers intended by this document and for this country. It becomes too easy, at times, to forget what the Revelutionary War (and so many additional wars) were fought for.

    Independence Day for me & mine means a profound sense of gratitude that we live in the United States of America! A democracy!

    I am a child of the armed forces (my Father was career military). So on this weekend, our (me , my family & friends) thoughts are with our Military all over the world, but especailly those in Iraq, Afganistan & N.Korea.

    Our thoughts are also with the people of Iran and the profound & brutal stiffling of their thoughts, actions and freedoms (as well with ALL countries throughout the world who are brutally oppressed). We send our prayers for their continued courage and ultimate freedom from the tyranny they live under.

    Tony Harris & CNN, thank you for asking this question and giving us the opportunity to write in our thoughts.

    July 3, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  23. Megan

    The 4th of July is one of my favorite days of the year. It is the one day of the year when I can allow myself to be swept up in complete celebration of the idea of "America." Every other day of the year is commonly marked by a healthy skeptism of government. It is the American way to be skeptical of government while believing in the dreams that America was built upon: that every (wo)man is created equal and that every individual has a say in the continual shaping of this nation. Though these concepts are often taken for granted in the present, these were novel ideals in the 1770s. The reality of America is not perfect. July 4th reminds us what we strive to be. July 4th is a day to celebrate these ideals without judgment and to remember the strength of our forefathers and all people who gave their lives in support of their declared ideals. The 4th of July is a day when I allow myself to place my judgments aside and to recall why America is a great and unique nation. My father is the most patriotic person I know. He taught me that, with enough belief in myself, my dreams and hard work, America is the only country where I can be anything that I strive to be.

    July 3, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  24. Martin in Shoreline, WA

    It sounds like we need another revolution. Our government officials are violating virtually all of this Declaration. Especially that "imposing taxes upon us without our consent" statement.

    Wake up America. You no longer live free.

    July 3, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  25. CAESAR PETERS

    I find it oddly interesting that Mr. Jefferson, after mentioning three times, the broad presence of God in our lives as Americans at that time, he did not find it prudent to take such a great opportunity as this document presents, to make some difinitive statment on public record, concerning the seperation, legislativly, of the state from the church. After all, that the state ran the church of England was a huge issue for many people, who came to the Americas to escape it. The "....seperation of church and state..." statment comes to us only in a private letter which he wrote to a colleague. Am I missing something here, why did he move purposly past this oppertunity to lock it into public record?

    July 3, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
  26. Stephen

    Happy 4th to all, I am a vet and proud citizen who loves his country..
    he he another view point from our past. How relevant now...

    http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=162

    July 3, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  27. Kathryn Hayes

    Tony, so glad you posted the Declaration! On our little lane in Bethesda, we celebrate Independence Day with gathered neighbors in our front yard in the morning. Kids too young to read wear a tricorn or a mob cap and walk the street ringing bells; town criers calling everyone to assemble. Then we read the Declaration aloud. We divide it into pieces so as many can participate as possible, especially our newest readers. And we talk a bit about freedom. Doesn't take much time, leaving the rest of the day for cook-outs and fireworks and parades. But we are making sure the children understand WHAT we are celebrating on the 4th. It's all about the words - the words are sacred, and words are meant to be spoken. The ideas the words convey are sacred too, and those ideas are meant to be heard. The words, and the ideas, thrill and move us every time.

    July 3, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  28. rob

    TONY, MY COMMENTS BEGAN WITH "ARE YOU KIDDING" BLOG

    I WILL CONTINUE. THE FOUNDING FATHERS WERE AWARE OF

    HISTORY AND DIDN'T WANT TO MAKE THE SAME OR SIMULAR

    MISTAKES. THEY PUT TOGETHER DOCUMENTS THAT WERE NOT

    CAST IN STONE; FOR THIS YOUNG, GROWING REPRESENTATIVE

    DEMOCRACY IT NEEDED A LIVING, BREATHING SET OF LAWS

    THAT WAS FOR THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE AND OF THE

    PEOPLE; AND OVER MOST OF 230 YEARS, THIS COUNTRY WENT

    ON WHILE OTHERS FAILED; IT SEEMED, AS THE FOUNDING

    FATHERS HAD THOUGHT, IT WAS STANDING THE TEST OF TIME

    BUT BECAUSE OF ITEMS COMMENTED IN "ARE YOU KIDDING"

    AND LOBBYIST, ETC IT HAS BECOME FOR BUSINESS, OF

    BUSINESS AND BY BUSINESS; THIS INPART, WHETHER IT'S

    WALL ST., BANK ST., MARKET ST., OR MAIN ST., WE HAVE TO

    GET BACK TO THE FOUNDING FATHERS PRINCIPLES, THE

    CONGRESS MUST GET BACK TO GOVERNING FOR THE PEOPLE

    BY THE PEOPLE AND OF THE PEOPLE. THE THREE BRANCHES

    OF GOVERNMENT HAS TO STEP UP--NOT FOR GREED, ILLEGAL

    ALIENS, VOTES OR YOU AND ME BUT FOR THOSE FOUNDING

    FATHERS WHOSE VISION OF A LIVING, BREATHING DOCUMENT

    NOT THERE TO BE ABUSED OR FINDING LOOPHOLES BUT TO

    BE A BLUEPRINT FOR A LONG FUTURE FOR IT'S LEGAL AND

    RIGHTFUL CITIZENS.........................................

    July 4, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  29. rob

    TONY, AS FAR AS A PATRIOT; I MUST SAY THAT PAST CIVILIZATIONS

    WERE EVALUATED BY THE WAY THEY TOOK CARE OF THEIR AGED

    WARRIOR WOUNDED OR NOT. AS ALREADY REPORTED BY CNN

    OUR CURRENT MILITARY-VETERAN AFFAIRS SYSTEM IS BROKEN.

    SEEING A VETERAN ON THE CORNER OR STREET PANHANDLING

    BY CHOICE OR DESIGN CAN NOT BE. TO BE THAT SHINING

    COUNTRY ON THE HILL, BY ALL COST THERE CAN NOT BE ANY

    WARRIORS UNACCOUNTED FOR, UNCARED FOR OR FALLEN

    THROUGH THE CRACK. THEY HAVE FOUGHT LIVED OR DIED,

    SO THE ENJOYMENT WE ARE ENJOYING THIS WEEKEND IS

    TRULY THE IDEALS THE FOUNDING FATHERS HELD TO BE

    TRUTHS, THAN WE AS A PEOPLE SHALL NOT PERISH.....

    July 5, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  30. Mrs. Eileen G. Curras widow to Hernandez

    Independence Day to me means freedom. It means the freedom for me to be accepted as a Person with Disabilities. I cannot stand loud noises so I have to stay inside the house. Sound gives me simple partial seizures so I will see the fireworks on the television. I saw the happy faces on the television and the bands. Due to my condition Multiple Sclerosis (MS) I cannot go to the park to see the fireworks and MS has made me susceptible to heat. I have MS but MS does not have me. I had to reinvent myself and accept my limitations. I am sad that our American Citizens in Puerto Rico do not have the resources for the Community of Persons with Disabilities nor Patients with MS.

    July 5, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  31. Kathleen (MAD IN THE MIDWEST)

    AIG wants to give bonuses again !! This is just NUTS. The American Taxpayer is losing their jobs, health care and other benefits in companies that are cost saving. Small businesses cannot get short term operating loans too as the banks that got the TARP monies (American Taxpayer Money!!) were suppose to use those monies to lend but ARE NOT. Those banks are using Taxpayer Monies to pad their bottom line to show PROFIT AND PAY FALSE BONUSES ! Small businesses are CLOSING for that reason.
    The American Taxpayer is getting SCAMMED BY THESE BUSINESSES. Congress do SOMETHING NOT JUST LETTING THESE SLAP IN THE AMERICAN TAXPAYERS FACE actions happen!!
    Where is OUR ELECTED OFFICALS !!

    July 10, 2009 at 12:34 pm |
  32. Kathy W

    Health Care reform? Answer: Just give us the plan Congress has !
    Problem solved.

    July 10, 2009 at 1:00 pm |
  33. Wallace D. Johnson, Jr

    Amen!!!!! Kathy W., but that would be too much like right. We donate and campaigh to get them there, then the majr industries come along and buy them and we seem to stupid or lazy to send them home again. "Wake up everybody there is a new day a dawning" a song writer once penned. Please people let's wake up and make it a new day.!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 10, 2009 at 8:35 pm |
  34. gary

    Irony...Slaves leave port off Ghana to America through "Door of no return" only one returns to that Point of No Return and leave as the President of the united states of America.

    July 11, 2009 at 10:28 pm |
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