A Conversation For The Ages

The Fourth of July is the federal holiday when we in the United States commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence (from the Kingdom of Great Britain) signed on July 4, 1776.

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / BHJ

During the American Revolution , the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence . Congress then turned its attention to the declaration or statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five , with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. The wording was debated and revised through Congress, finally approving it on July 4.

A day earlier, John Adams had written to his wife Abigail that this will be “...the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

Indeed, Adams' foresight was profound and the Fourth of July continues to be one of the most cherished days of the year. As he hoped, there are indeed parades and shows and pomp and bonfires and illuminations. But I have to wonder what these men would think if they were delivered back in time to today. Here in the USA, 237 years later, would Jefferson, Adams and the other first members of Congress approve of how we “kept the flame” since they achieved it?

Would the recent debates over abortion, the definition of legal marriage, the treatment of God and religious references and the stretching of the truth on Capitol Hill please these men? One has to wonder.

If that time machine left Jefferson and Adams in the two chairs sitting in front of my desk this morning what might they ask me as I went about my day? Let’s consider it.

RON:  Good morning Tom. Good morning John. Coffee?

THEY:  Good morning Ron. No thanks, we prefer tea.

RON:  Yeah I read something about that. Did you know the Tea Party was still very much alive and “active” today?

THEY:   Truly? And in what capacity do they serve?

RON:  Well – they kind of act as a moral compass of sorts; they represent the things that sometimes get passed up when we get too excited or out of focus about new ideas. Actually they try to remind us of what you guys had in mind all those years ago when you put this document together. By the way guys, that was one heck of a clear and thought-out document for just two days work.

THEY:  (blushing) Well, we were a little excited, too, but not out of focus. But what a delightful thing to hear that there are those still interested in being committed to the words, the original intent.

RON:  Oh yes – I guess you could even say that the very debate they keep alive is a big part of what you intended. Let me turn on the computer here and show you some interesting items.  Remember all those newspapers your buddy Ben Franklin used to print up? Well today they all come over the air waves and onto this colorful screen. One of our more recent colonists named Al Gore claims to have invented this but later when he purported to invent weather we began to question his validity. Anyway – here are some recent headlines.

THEY:  Incredible! (peering into the screen).

RON:  Let me do a quick factual “catch up” for you first. Women now vote and most of them work jobs like men. Minorities of all kinds have the equal rights you had rallied for and today, your original intentions can be truly validated as there is a multi-cultural president in the White House. You see for years after you won our freedom, people around the world began to come to the United States to exercise the right to that freedom. They poured in from all corners of the globe. Our friends in France built us this beautiful Statue of Liberty to stand in the harbor and welcome them here. As our nationalities mixed and blended we came became known as the “Great Melting Pot.” Your original vision played out tenfold.

THEY:  (Looking at each other with tears in their eyes) Unbelievable; all of this harmony from such a mix of race, creed, color and religion.

RON:  Well I can’t say it is all harmonious gentlemen. There is conflict; conflict between the parties, conflict of ideas, assumptions of immorality, judgment, preference, fairness; an awful lot of constant debate. There are and have been wars; battles that raged on for years with leaders from other countries being captured by their own people and killed with the assistance of America’s military and moral might. We’ve had missiles pointed at us and we’ve had missiles pointed at others. Some of the details of the last 237 years are pretty grizzly. The freedom you won for us has not been easy to maintain. There are some days it appears to have almost eluded us entirely. But then another day comes and another sun rises and the basic element of human decency prevails and for awhile all is good again.

THEY:  So really … not much has changed.

RON:  (smiling) No sirs, I guess not.

THEY:  All we ever intended was the right to question why. We asked, “Why can’t man be free to live as he was born without obligation or predjudice?” and everywhere we went, the answer was the same. People believed that indeed, man should have that right.

RON: Well – if that was the foundation and the seed from which it all grew today, I guess you could look anywhere in this great country and find the trees of your labor bearing much healthy fruit.

THEY: We’re really glad we stopped by. We do have a few questions from that, what was it, Inter-net thing?

RON: Yes?

THEY:  Some of those pictures of your modern musicians and theater stars appear to confirm some of Franklin’s other theories that there is life on other planets. Did these aliens come all at once or do they keep coming one at a time?

RON:  (Chuckling) Oh – new ones seem to show up all the time and yes you are right most are definitely from another planet.

THEY:  We see. OK then just one last question. Why are these Kardashians famous?

RON:  Guys, I don’t know anyone who can answer that one. Just have a great holiday.

Ron Ciancutti is the Purchasing Manager for Cleveland Metroparks. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at rdc@clevelandmetroparks.com .