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What Do You Know About Independence Day?


As we look forward to the July 4th Independence Day celebration,  let’s think for a few minutes about the words that were principally drafted by 33-year-old Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776, which resulted in the Declaration of Independence – our nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty.

Here, in so many unforgettable phrases, Jefferson expressed the convictions in the minds and hearts of those gathered in Philadelphia to contemplate their yet-to-be-formed nation’s sentiments for declaring their freedom from British rule.

The political philosophy of the Declaration was not new; its ideals of individual liberty had already been expressed by John Locke and other European philosophers.

What Jefferson did with such clarity was to summarize this philosophy in “self-evident truths” and set forth a list of grievances against King George II in order to justify before the world the breaking of ties between the colonies and the mother country.

independence DayWhile our nation’s Founding Fathers, fifty-six of whom signed the Declaration on July 4, 1776, are to be honored for their vision, wisdom, and sacrifices, it is always appropriate, I believe, to recall certain realities of the time.  Like Jefferson himself, others in that group were slave owners, a fact that seems to contradict the heralded preamble to the document:

We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, and that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

This contradiction is real, but as historic events unfolded over the decades and centuries to follow, the Declaration of Independence served as a source of motivation for many important movements for justice in our nation…and many other peoples and nations worldwide…to this day.

The American abolitionists’ fight against slavery and the suffragists’ struggle for voting rights for women were firmly rooted in the words of the Declaration.

And of course, the ongoing movements for civil rights reforms based upon racial, disability, sexual identity, immigration status, and other human differences all deserve and demand action to resolve….are each likewise based upon the principles of freedom, liberty, and achieving a quality of life declared as unalienable by Thomas Jefferson and his co-authors.

independence dayHere is the text of the Declaration of Independence which I urge you to take a few minutes to read in full… Declaration of Independence

As you savor its brilliance, please remember that words alone do not bring change or progress.  It’s in the actions of enforcement that motivating words become social reality…..and only through effective and ardent advocacy can we make the changes that our nation’s founders guided us to dream about and act upon for the betterment of all.

Focusing our attention on defending ourselves from injustice and discrimination, we have every opportunity and obligation to look deeply into our conscience…both individually and as a society….to hold this truth to be evident: There is no progress without examining our moral compass and move in a positive direction to advocate justice for all.

David McCullough’s Guidance – History’s Great Lessons

The wisdom of our elders, their treasury of experience, and the connection they hold to life’s lessons are one of our most valued assets as family members and society.

I trust you agree that the more we learn about our past, the more we are able to address the challenges we face.

We are the only species that can know our past and plan for our future!  What awesome gifts we should unwrap every day!

Please consider these 10 suggestions, rooted in the messages I heard from David McCullough when he spoke at the Bob Graham Center in Gainesville some 10 years ago.

  1. Keep a journal, writing perceptions, observations, and creative thoughts, with entries at least a few times per week.  This routine will reward us with new ideas and create opportunities to contemplate new positive activities.
  1. Share family history with loved ones by creating a remembrances album highlighting the names and key reflections on those who preceded us.  Sharing special stories will give the younger generation the gift of recollection and belonging. I will share a Family History Guide…Send a note to jack@4gen.org with Family History in the subject line.
  1. Write letters and cards to family and friends whom we rarely see. While e-mail and phone calls are convenient, an actual handwritten letter or card is a rare and cherished gift of personal contact across the miles.
  1. Schedule trips to historic sites and learn about the era, the events, and the significance of the place. Honor those whose bravery in battle helped assure our freedoms….past and present.
  1. Visit museums and absorb the various artistic and cultural offerings on display to nurture an appreciation for the diversity which is human creation.
  1. Advocate for a cause by expressing your opinion to elected officials who represent us.  This nation was founded on the promise of representative government, and each of us has the opportunity and obligation to exercise our right to free speech.
  1. Thank teachers for their dedication and support of quality education by advocating a diverse curriculum that spans all of the arts, civic and cultural subjects our children need to be truly educated. The love of learning is truly one of humanity’s essential attributes.
  1. Read more literature, poetry, and history, and give children the tools they need to better use their time in activities that stimulate their brains and build healthier bodies.
  1. Visit with a neighbor, if just for a few minutes, to offer a friendly word and share a sense of connection and community.  Life’s histories are treasures waiting to be discovered!
  1. Dedicate yourself to be a positive force for others….and the rewards will be bountiful.

Independence DayTo learn more about David McCullough’s life and works, I recommend this link David McCullough .

The Artistic Brilliance of  Norman Rockwell

I think that no other artist had the talent and sensitivity of spirit to capture the uniquely American experience better than Norman Rockwell throughout his fabulous career.

So it’s fitting that as we celebrate our nation’s birth, we take a few moments to glance back to view this Norman Rockwell treasury of iconic and inspirational artistic images…. Norman Rockwell Painting Collection and Rockwell’s Civil Rights Painting

As I build the 4Generations Institute initiative to promote inter-generational communication and volunteer commitments, I am awed by the power of relationships.  Just as in families, the health of a community is in the depth and breadth of relationships among those who share common interests….across the generations.

I’m honored to be in touch with you and look forward to continuing our communication. Thank you for considering my request for support of my advocacy voice.

Please feel free to reply to me anytime and please share my messages with your family members, colleagues, and community contacts.

If your e-mail address or location is changing a note to jack@4gen.org will allow me to update my 4Generations network directory.

May the blessings of Summer lift your spirits and bring joy to you and your loved ones.  Please hydrate and keep safe.

Never hesitate to contact me…My best for your good work.


“The purpose of life is not just to be happy. 

It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate,

to make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”  

                                                 – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Onward Together for Good



Jack Levine, Founder
4Generations Institute

850.5675252 (mobile/voicemail)
P.O. Box10875

Tallahassee, FL 32302

The Advocate’s Credo:
Thou art my child, my parent, and my elder,
I love thee best,
But could not love thee half as much,
Loved I not all the rest.

jack levine

About the author

Jack Levine is a child and family advocate; founder, 4Generations Institute; former president, Voices For Florida’s Children, Tallahassee.

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