Next week, the Herald Community Newspapers will publish the Declaration of Independence and a likeness of the American flag. The Declaration will appear here, on our Editorial Page, as it long has during the week of the Fourth of July, and the flag will appear in the center of the paper.
We encourage families to stand on their stoops and front lawns and read the Declaration together, as messengers did across the 13 colonies in 1776.
For 39 years, the Merrick Historical Society, led by President Lawrence Garfinkel, gathered on July Fourth at the Merrick Library and the Long Island Rail Road station to read the Declaration. All from the community and beyond were invited to attend, and the event attracted many families with small children.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, however, the society decided against the public reading, and is instead encouraging people to read the Declaration with their families at home. What a wonderful idea, we thought. What better way to learn about and teach our history — about the very moment our nation was conceived —than by reading the Declaration, line by line.
If you do so, take a photo and email it to us at SBrinton@liherald.com.
The Signing of the Declaration ushered in an entirely new era in history, when colonies would rebel against their sovereign, in our case the mighty British Empire. That rebellion brought forth a new era in government, when democracy — rule by the people — began after thousands of years of monarchial rule in Europe and around the globe.
Thus began the great American experiment, as we like to call it.
For sure, it has been an imperfect experiment. As noted in the editorial above, not all were freed by the American Revolution that followed publication of the Declaration. Millions remained enslaved for the better part of a century.
The American experiment, however, has moved steadily toward greater freedom and justice for all people. It is up to our generation now to carry the mantle forward and form a more perfect union than that which we were given by working to eliminate systemic racism in all its forms.