July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July!


In pre-Oklahoma days, I was an archivist. I always describe it as a librarian for old documents and manuscripts. It's not quite the right explanation though, because it doesn't show the passion archivists have for history or how a document is more than a piece of paper. It's a window into someone's life and I challenge you to read a diary or newspaper from a specific point in history and not be totally drawn in.

The picture above is probably not the image you are used to seeing of the Declaration. It is faded and barely legible-but it is the original document. That piece of paper was touched by Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, John Hancock. So many of us only think of these men as part of a history book.

Take a moment this weekend to think about the men who gathered together and signed what is arguably one of the most radical and beautiful documents in our history. Had we not won the Revolution, signing the Declaration of Independence would have been the equivalent to signing their own death warrant. While many become soldiers during the war, at the point they wrote this document they were simply citizens-farmers, lawyers and the like. They were not supermen or saints. They were ordinary people with extraordinary courage and vision. And in July of 1776 they created something amazing.

Go read the transcription. Look at the National Archives' online exhibit about the document. And celebrate!

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