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In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776/Incongruous, July 4, 2022

By Lawrence Pfeil, Jr.

As a kid on the Fourth of July, I loved all the red, white, and blue bunting, waving flags, and most of all the fireworks.  I couldn’t wait for it to get dark and the fireworks to begin!  As I got older, I began learning American history, to sing “The Star Spangled Banner,” and the significance of our national holiday took on a deeper meaning.  I was proud to be an American.

Many years later, I came out as a gay man.  I quickly learned the country I loved, hated me because of who I loved.  In fact, the Government and its leaders who I had supported and elected, were advocating to deny my civil rights and persistently legislating to keep LGBT people as second-class citizens in America.  Needless to say, it was a rude awakening and every Fourth of July began wondering “what the hell do gay people have to celebrate?”  I couldn’t understand why our government would deny us equality and civil rights.  I had memorized  Thomas Jefferson’s immortal words in school and believed them.


Had I missed something?  Misunderstood what those words meant?  I checked Webster’s dictionary for clarification.

We – plural pronounyou and I and another or others

hold – verb: to believe

these – plural of this

truths – plural noun: transcendent fundamental, or facts

to – function word: showing following word is an infinitive

be – verb: to have an objective existence

self-evident – adjective: true without proof or reasoning

that – pronoun: the person, thing, or idea indicated

all – adjective: every member or individual component of

men – plural noun: man, syn. mankind, humanity

are – verb: present tense plural of be

created – verb: past tense: to bring into existence

equal – adjective: like in quality, nature, or status

that — pronoun: the person, thing, or idea indicated

they – plural pronoun: those ones

are – verb: present tense plural of be

endowed – verb, past tense:  to provide with freely or naturally

by – preposition:  through the agency of

their – adjective: of or relating to themselves as possessors

Creator – noun: one that brings something new into being; especially, capitalized: god

with – preposition: inclusive of

certain – adjective: inevitable

unalienable – adjective: impossible to take away or give up

rights – plural noun: a entitlement to which one has a natural claim of possession

that – pronoun: the person, thing, or idea indicated

among – preposition: in company or association with

these – plural of this

are – verb: present tense plural of be

life – noun: a manner of living, existence

liberty – noun: the power to do as one pleases, freedom

and – conjunction: to indicate connection or items within the same class

the – article: to indicate that a following noun is definite

pursuit – verb: to find or obtain, seek

of – preposition: to indicate the cause, motive

happiness – noun: a state of well-being and contentment, joy

 In other words,

“All of us believe these facts are true.  All humanity is made the same and they are given by their creation inevitable and impossible to take away entitlements by nature; including their existence, freedom, and to seek well-being and joy.”

No disclaimers, exceptions, or expiration dates there.  Only fundamental facts so clear and plain, they require no explanation.  Tenets of equality and freedom so profound, they became the guiding principles of Abraham Lincoln’s words and deeds, in ending slavery and preserving the Union. Yet, 246 years later, the United States of America fails to live up to even those most basic beliefs as set forth by our founders. What’s more, many of our states and courts have begun restricting the rights of Americans, which the founders declared on July 4th were “impossible to take away.”

This nation was colonized by Europeans fleeing persecution in their homelands; who made a life-threatening journey to get here; who were looking to build a better life for their families.  Those desperate refugees settled on the land of indigenous people living here for millennia, then began steal as much as they wanted.  Those settlers brought millions of enslaved Africans to build fortunes on that land for themselves and their posterity.  But when they themselves were denied liberty by an autocratic tyrant, they declared independence and that their rights were derived not from the King but their humanity.

Current political forces are charting a regressive course for an America in which LGBTQ people, people of color, and women have their inherent human rights denied them, rather than protected.  They seek to live by an originalist interpterion of an 18th century code of laws and a millennia old book of mores, which the code they want to strictly interpret in fact prohibits doing.  It’s a constitution which the framers themselves, with humility for the limits of their own knowledge and faults, designed as a living document adaptable to an unforeseeable future “in Order to form a perfect Union.”

When one strives to perfect anything, one strives for balance — equality.  In mathematics, the equation must always balance.  Physics tell us the “perfect” state of universe is equilibrium and is always moving towards it.  The “scales of justice” symbolize balance and equality inspiring the phrase, “Equal Justice Under Law.”  The men who declared American independence and the ideals of human rights and freedom where not perfect, nor divine, nor did they profess to be.  They did their best setting up a new nation and themselves for success.  Aware of compromises made with the devil over slavery, left America’s original sin to be atoned for.  But they believed our “better angels” would ultimately prevail and keep the country moving forward.

Their views may have run the political spectrum from radical to conservative, but a colony declaring itself free and independent as a new nation had never been done before in history.  It was not only revolutionary it was absolutely radical and lead by “the radical left” of the Second Continental Congress.  Keep that in mind, the next time someone, anyone uses it as an insult.  They should thanking “the radical left” for America.

On today of all days, one has to wonder, what the founders would think to see their congressional descendants not protecting the very rights enumerated in their Declaration, not strengthening the democracy they created by protecting voting rights and elections, let alone having supported a coup by the former President.   Our nation, meant to be “the shining city upon a hill” is becoming a mirage.

There are just 35 words in that ironic passage; but for nearly two and half centuries, it has spoken volumes to the world about our American beliefs and values.  Given the scores of antithetical laws passed in several conservative states and recent Supreme Court rulings, we must ask them, “Which word don’t you understand?”


2 thoughts on “In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776/Incongruous, July 4, 2022

  • Great read!! Should be required reading in American schools. Thx so much!!


    • Thank you I appreciate your kind words. You’re welcome to share it. The credit goes to my good schools and inspiring teachers I had who could still teach facts and truth but most of all gave me the skill of critically thinking. If education is anything less, it’s indoctrination with propaganda.
      Lawrence Pfeil, Jr.


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