A day to celebrate our independence

With fireworks and barbecues; mud volleyball and car shows, it's easy to look past the roots of Independence Day.

It's easy to use the words "freedom" and "liberty" but it is not easy to attain it.

Our forefathers took bold, declarative steps on July 4, 1776. The Declaration of Independence underscores exactly what our nation's founders were hoping to achieve, and what they were willing to sacrifice in order to escape the tyranny of English rule at the time.

In fact, although we are more likely to recall the phrases "certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", most of the Declaration of Independence lays out examples of oppression.

Among the oppressions singled out in the Declaration of Independence were:

* Cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world

* Imposing taxes on us without consent

* Plundering the seas, ravaging our coasts and burning our towns

* Suspending our legislatures

* Obstructing the laws for Naturalization of foreigners and discouraging their migrations

Some of the most powerful words of the Declaration of Independence, then, come after these reasons for doing so. Here are the final few paragraphs of the famous document:

"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."

Thousands would go on to lose their lives in defending this freedom, established by the men brave enough to put ink to parchment. Today, the United States of America is one of the most powerful nations in the world, thanks to this document and these words; but also the grit and determination of a nation of rebels unwilling to serve a monarch or dictator, a nation of furiously independent thinkers and doers determined to decide for themselves their own personal course and the course of a nation ruled by the people and for the people.

Happy Independence Day, everyone.