Hollyhock in sunlight
BACKLIT As they say: Stop and smell the roses. In this case, the hollyhock, illuminated from behind by the afternoon sun. (Photo by Pierre Ratte)

Sometimes ya just see sumthin.’ 

Driving down the road, the sun shone through a pink and red hollyhock, transforming its petals into a glowing orb. Arresting. Even driving 35 mph, not quite at a stoplight, something said, “Stop.” Take a beat, take a picture, take a moment to appreciate. As they say: Stop and smell the roses. In this case, the hollyhock.

It’s July Fourth, a time of patriotic remembrances, picnics, pies, parades and fireworks. Time to take a moment and stop. Stop to reflect and honor this country’s great experiment in governance “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Wishing everyone joys of the season in backyard gatherings, pool parties, barbecues and baseball games. Happy Fourth of July!

Fun facts: We live in a federal constitutional democratic republic. Say, what? Let’s break it down. Federal meaning a federation of states with a republican form of government. Republican (small “r”) meaning power held by people and exercised through representatives. Constitutional meaning power is limited by written doctrine establishing rules preventing pure democracy, and therefore, the unfettered will of the majority or their representatives. Democratic (small “d”) meaning people voting for representatives.

The U.S. is 248 years old. Before the United States of America, we were United Colonies. On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence, thereby severing political connection with Great Britain.

Jefferson wrote the Declaration in mid-June. On July 5, a day after Congress voted, a copy of the Declaration was printed with only John Hancock’s and Charles Thompson’s signatures, as president and secretary of the Congress.

On July 19, Congress ordered the Declaration “engrossed” and signed by all members. Engrossed meaning a law is prepared in official form—in this case it was retitled “the unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.”

On Aug. 2, John Hancock signed. Other member’s signatures were arranged by states north to south, beginning with New Hampshire and ending with Georgia. Eight members of Congress did not sign.

In signing, members pledged their lives, their fortunes and their honor. As traitors to Great Britain, they signed on penalty of death. Their pledge and their sacrifice are celebrated and honored today.

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