The words of our nation’s Declaration of Independence, ratified July 4, 1776, still inspire — and still serve us to this day. Conveyed to King George III of England, those words officially severed our 13 colonies’ allegiance and obligation to the British Empire.

Harsh measures against the colonists, steadily enacted by Parliament, had led to war well into its second year when our Declaration was signed. It was initially drafted by Thomas Jefferson, refined by others and unanimously ratified.

An additional seven years of war would be necessary to make our independence a reality. The colonists who fought for the freedom we enjoy, these 243 years later, did so with scant provisions and in harsh conditions against daunting odds. By the grace of God they prevailed.

A constitutional convention, held in 1787, would still be needed to produce the defining document that would guide our fledgling republic, whose growth has far exceeded even the wildest dreams of its founding fathers. With that growth has come remarkable accomplishment — and additional challenges we have faced as a nation.

In the midst of it all, one quintessentially American element has continued throughout. It is our love of freedom and the shared certainty that “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.”

Calling upon Divine Providence and risking their “lives, fortunes and sacred honor,” 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence began what we celebrate today.

May we honor their vision and courage with a love of country and a devotion to its ideals that would make them proud.

Happy 4th of July..

Happy birthday to Karen Atkinson of Sherman; Georgia Roberson of Savoy; Jimmy Cummings of Sherman;

Happy anniversary to Jeffery and Melody Walters of Allen, 8 years; Michael and Rebekah Brooks of Castle Rock, Colorado, 21 years; Penny and Mel Carruth of Denison, 34 years; Gordon and Darlene Duke of Sherman, 46 years;