The meaning of many holidays can be elusive. On Memorial Day, are we contemplating our fallen heroes, or grilling burgers? How many shopping days ‘til Christmas? Labor Day? Isn’t that the last weekend at the beach?
The Fourth of July has just passed. Hopefully, we paused at least for a few moments to meditate on what happened in Philadelphia in 1776.
I’ve seen the actual Declaration twice in my life. The first time was when my mom took me to D.C. as a young child. Later, I took the kids to the National Archives, where we waited in a long line to be rewarded with a few second gaze at the very faded ink that was sequestered behind thick glass.
History is such a thrill. It’s a dynamic discipline that breathes. This past week, a scholar from Princeton, New Jersey claims that a punctuation mark – a period – does not appear on the original parchment, but was included in the official transcript of the Declaration authorized by the National Archives. The omission of the period casts a different slant on the sentence that begins with the iconic phrase, We hold these truths to be self-evident.
Fifty-six men signed the document. Here are their concluding words to King George III.
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.
We owe a debt that can never be repaid.