The Declaration of Independence for Dummies: What If Our Country's Senior Founding Father Were to Come Back Today? He Might Have to Give Us a Refresher Course on the Precious Union He Helped to Create
Cox, Nelson, The Saturday Evening Post
For the Bicentennial of our country in 1976, our founder Benjamin Franklin appeared to author Isaac Asimov in a series of dreams. Franklin wanted to discuss the development of the country he was so instrumental in creating. Unbeknownst to everyone at the time, even us, Franklin left us his cell phone number if we ever wanted to talk to him again. (Could you blame us, though? We didn't even know what a cell phone was. We now figure they've had them in Heaven for some time.) Anyway, for his upcoming 300th birthday in 2006, we once again wanted to get his take on how his country has turned out.
Wha's shakin' y'all? I must say it's been fun for us Founding Fathers up here in Heaven to watch the country that started as a blank sheet of paper in Philadelphia grow and grow. If you're wondering who the Founding Fathers are, we're the people who founded this country. I know, no one says "Founding Fathers" anymore; they now call us "the Framers," whatever that means, or "the Founders," which sounds like a mysterious villain on Star Trek. The term "Founding Fathers" is apparently not what people call "politically correct." Neither were we. That was the whole point of creating a new country.
Many of us have been pleasantly surprised by how America has grown. I know Georgie didn't think we'd last longer than a run of the Anna Nicole Smith show. But we gave you the tools, and you ran with it and created something magnificent, Michael Moore notwithstanding. Not that everything is perfect ...
I'd like to say that life here has improved considerably since my time. And, to be sure, in many ways it has. For instance, when I flew my kite in a lightning storm, all I could do was discover electricity. Today, I could both discover electricity and sue the manufacturer of the kite for millions of dollars for not putting a warning label on the kite against doing something stupid like flying it in a lightning storm. You have a rather sarcastic saying that such-and-such is "the greatest thing since sliced bread." Well, in my time we could never have used such a description--we could never have said "The Declaration of Independence is the greatest thing since sliced bread" because we did not have sliced bread. Truly a loss for my generation, but we didn't know any better. It took a real genius--someone far smarter than myself--to come up with the idea of taking a knife to bread. And you forced that whole slavery problem to go away--after a fashion.
But it is an area where my country has regressed that has put a big run in my tights. Some principal at a government-run school in California has told a teacher that he cannot teach the Declaration of Independence to his students because it has a reference to God in it and, they say, we must have a strict "separation between church and state" because of the U.S. Constitution.
I can't help but feel offended that this school--a school run by a government that I helped create, mind you--forbids teaching the Declaration of Independence because it believes there is a reference to God in it. We put our lives on the line--that declaration was all the King needed to execute us for treason. John Hancock signed his name as big as he could, just to get in their face about it. He always did like attention, but I digress. Like the rest of us, he risked his life, and now this principal wants to act as if we never existed.
Imagine a child going to Chicago for the first time, with this school forcing a conversation like this:
Child: Mommy, what's that?
Mom: That's the Hancock Tower.
Child: Why is it called the Hancock Tower?
Mom: It's named alter John Hancock?
Child: Who was he?
Mom: Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ...
Or, even worse, the Fourth of July.
Child: Mommy, why do we celebrate the Fourth of July?
Mom: Because it's our Independence Day?
Child: What does that mean?
Mom: It's the day we declared our independence from England. …