Bargell: In time for July 4th, a resolution of interdependence (column)
Mountain Mom Musings
This week, it’s all about the history — or at least what we manage to fit in between sparklers and symphonies. That part of history that involves digging through old papers in courthouses always has fascinated me. The bigger the book, the smaller the writing, and the deeper the dust that pours off when the volume creaks open, the better.
These days, however, there’s no dust required to view visceral remnants of our past. Instead, they come to life on my oversized computer screen, a quirky courtesy of 21st-century technology. Recently, digging around online (an oxymoron, perhaps), I happened upon a simple handwritten resolution, one of the first official acts of the American Revolution. Advanced by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, the online image is haunting in its simplicity — “Resolved: That these united Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”
The word “united” is inserted by a caret edit mark. I wonder what discussion ensued, if any, when the Resolution was drafted and just how the word “united” came to be added, either due to a brief oversight or perhaps recognition that even then we are better when we’re in this together. Some 239 years later we’ll probably never really know.
Just a few weeks ago, I was strolling down the streets of Charlestown with a friend, learning more about our country’s history. It was part of a quick trip to the city, sparked by a newspaper article she sent this spring titled “5 great weekend escapes.” The article recommended cities offering rich cultural experiences with “walkable downtowns.” Number two on the list, Charleston was described as an ideal place to “soak up the South.” I’d never before been and was intrigued by all the city had to offer.
During our weekend jaunt, we learned that Charleston was home to brave revolutionaries and staunch secessionists, filled now with residents who have retained a quintessential Southern charm.
One of our walks included a trip down Calhoun Street, passing the whitewashed façade of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church just days before the inside of the church would turn a heartbreaking shade of red, and the country collectively would mourn the loss of those murdered within its walls. In the weeks that followed, I listened to the increasingly hostile political rhetoric, saddened by the entire situation. I am one Northerner fatigued by the nouveau appeal of attacking the South. I’m not sure if my defensiveness is based on the graciousness I experienced during my recent stay or just general argument exhaustion (With two teenagers home for the summer, it’s hard to say).
This week as we celebrate the rugged and romantic spirit of independence, the handwritten resolution will come to mind and the privilege we have of living its vision. The word “united” still will jump out at me, reminding me we are called to unite against the hatred that spawned the recent massacre and the seeds of hatred that can come from continued criticism of our neighbors. As Sen. Cory Booker, an African-American statesman from New Jersey, eloquently explained some time ago: “In America, we have a Declaration of Independence; but our history, our advancements, our global strength all point to an American declaration of interdependence.”
This is a great week to recall we remain one nation, still under God, forged of independence and made great through our unity.
Cindy Bargell is an attorney and mom who lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two daughters and wishes all united Independence Day.
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