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Celebrating the Fourth on the Fifth Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

5 July 2021

Today we celebrate yesterday. Yesterday was the fourth but, being a Sunday, the nation will take today off to remember for two days in a row the day in 1776 when the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence.

Howard Chandler Christy. A detail from the U.S. Constitution 150th Anniversary Commission poster.

Those were the days. There was real oppression from a foreign government. "In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petititoned 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," the signers of the Delcaration of Independence explained.

It's near the end. No one reads to the end of anything.

But imagine that. Oppression, humble petitioning for redress. Real patriots. They signed their names knowing it put their lives on the line.

Not some yahoos drinking Kool-Aid whose leader lost an election fair and square, as we say around here. Nope, the signers were real patriots.

The illustration, a detail from the full poster by Howard Chandler Christy (who was in the habit of marrying his models), comes from an old book lying around here.

The Story of the U.S. Constitution was edited by Sol Bloom, who was the director general of the commission charged to mark the 150th anniversary of that document. Bloom explains:

It is a book for the people. Accordingly, it tells briefly the origins of our country, and what the steps were that led up to the formation of the Consitutiton. Having told how and why the National Government came about, the book tells what the Constitution stands for, its principles and the means by which it operates.

The book was quite an undertaking. There's William Hickey's alphabetical analysis of the Constitution and its amendments as a sort of index. There are maps and commentary. There are pictures of the signers with brief biographies. The Declaration of Independence and Washington's Farewell Address are also included.

How do we come by it? It's a family heirloom from our mother's side. Her father had kept it. Did the family acquire it in 1937? Or later when the threat of internment during World War II encouraged them to become American citizens?

Sadly, we don't know. And since it's a national holiday, we're not going to make anything up. We've taken the day off.

We do know they took comfort -- and pride -- in a nation of laws and not of men. They had seen what happens when it's the other way around. And they wouldn't have minded at all celebrating the rule of law two days in a row.

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