Today, we traditionally celebrate our independence. Specifically, we mark the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the storied manifesto drafted by Thomas Jefferson and signed by representatives from the 13 colonies who risked their lives to make the case for separation from Great Britain.
When learning about the Declaration in school, we are taught about the British crown's "long train of abuses and usurpations" that angered the colonists, from "imposing Taxes on us without our Consent" to "quartering large bodies of armed troops among us." All too often, however, we gloss over the last sentence before John Hancock's signature:
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.
In these closing words, the colonial leaders seeking independence from Great Britain declared their dependence on one another, affirming their common destiny.
Just as American independence required Georgia and New York, Massachusetts and South Carolina to join forces to win the Revolutionary War, we are each fundamentally dependent on one another in our own lives.
Who would we be without our parents and grandparents, spouses and significant others, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends? Imagine life without the subway conductors and bus drivers who get us to work, the bridge builders and pothole fillers who maintain our vital infrastructure, the policemen, firefighters and soldiers who risk their lives each day to keep us safe, the teachers who help us learn to think and prepare us to face the world, and the thankless civil servants who keep our cities running? Think of the doctors and nurses and dentists who save our lives and tend to us when we are ill, the scientists devoting their lives to finding cures, the technologists and entrepreneurs innovating the next big thing to help us live smarter and work more productively. Our rabbis, priests, and imams nurture our spiritual lives. Our therapists, lawyers, accountants, co-workers, baby-sitters, car mechanics and plumbers help us out in vital ways. Our favorite writers, actors, singers and dancers enrich our lives, make us laugh and cry, and shape the way in which we view the world. And the list goes on and on.
So today, on this Fourth of July, let us not just commemorate our independence from Great Britain that we secured hundreds of years ago. Let us celebrate our dependence on all of the people and institutions that make our lives possible each and every day. Just like the 13 colonies seeking independence in 1776, our lives are intertwined and our destinies are shared.