TODAY, we along with the rest of the nation celebrate Independence Day. And while our day may include gathering with friends and family, barbecues and fireworks, let us not forget why we're celebrating.
Two hundred thirty-eight years ago, a small group of individuals who were living in a land called British America were disgruntled because laws that they were being made to follow were being discussed and decided without their representation, and more so without their ability to vote on those matters. As the story goes, they first made their feelings known by tossing crates of taxed tea into the Boston Harbor and culminated their actions two years later by issuing the Declaration of Independence.
Does the story sound familiar? It should, because it is the story of how our nation came to be. But what I find intriguing with the event is that while it occurred over two centuries ago, a similar situation exists today, and it involves us.
The United States of America has grown tremendously since July 4, 1776. Then, it consisted of 13 colonies that formed a union along the seaboard of a continent that was vastly unexplored and "unclaimed." Today, it is comprised of 50 states, 48 of which were formed after the rest of the continent was discovered and either purchased or claimed, and numerous possessions that were acquired, purchased, ceded, or taken. And while the desires expressed in the Declaration of Independence still hold true and are ardently defended by the 50 states of our nation, there are those of us who have been deemed "of the United States but not part of the United States" that still wait for true acceptance and inclusion.
The most significant passage in the Declaration is in its preamble, and it states as follows:
"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, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
I ask you to read the passage over again, and pay special attention to the last 20 words. It was in this statement that the colonists in 1776 were saying that no man should be denied the ability to participate in the discussions and decisions of how they were to be governed. It was their belief then, and it should be our belief today.
A few days ago the U.S. Supreme Court rendered a decision that set the full implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act in motion. And while communities within the 50 states amplify their arguments for or against the Act, we on Guam and the other modern-day colonies were either not included in some of the provisions or are made to wonder if yet other parts of the law are applicable to us as well. Some may argue that that's a good thing, and others may feel that it’s not fair. But what is fundamentally bothersome is that this law is yet another mandate that will have an effect on our lives, and we had no say in the matter.
So while we celebrate one of the greatest days in our nation's history, let us take the time to give thanks to the men and women who lived in the days of British America for their fortitude and firm belief in building a nation with a government that derives its powers from the consent of the governed. And if you can, pray that one day we can share in this belief too.