Every year in celebration of the 4th of July, National Public Radio broadcasts a reading of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, each paragraph read by a different network correspondent. This blend of voices bringing life to this remarkable document is inspiring and poignant but I frequently miss parts of it as my daily activities interrupt or I wake after it has started and only hear a portion.
This morning I woke a bit before 7 a.m. to the second half of the reading on Morning Edition, my clock radio just beyond my pillows on the nightstand. I waited for the rebroadcast a couple of hours later and I tried to stream it from my NPR affiliate, WAER FM in Syracuse, only to encounter a typical technological glitch. So I scurried to a radio and, again, caught it midstream.
I had to confess to myself that it is ludicrous that I am a 55 year old American who has, until now, never read this crucial piece of writing in its entirety. Not only have I not taken the time, initiative, whatever, no teacher ever asked me to read it. How did that happen? Norman Lear, the entertainment mogul, owns an original draft as a citizen to preserve its intention and share with other citizens and I have never even read it – 30 some odd paragraphs upon which our entire nation rests.
So this morning, I went to the NPR web site, downloaded the reading and I followed along in print. Follow this link if you would like to do the same:
What I discovered was an astounding treatise, a magnificent vocabulary lesson, an appallingly racist view of the indigenous peoples from whom we seized this continent, and deep inspiration at the same time. Oxymoron in its greatest sense. I also more fully understand the politics and history that resulted in the drafting of this document and the formation of this nation. The same issues today in many ways as I watch MSNBC, listen to NPR, tune into PBS and ABC, and receive breaking news from CNN in my inbox.
I am news junkie, this is a fact. But I am also dreadfully uninformed. This I need to change. Today I took a step. I immersed myself in the Declaration and the language of Thomas Jefferson. I started thinking about a lesson plan. I consider all before me who staked everything so I have the ability to live my life as an independent artist and educator, and to those who protect those inalienable rights this day. Thank you all.
Thanks again for following my blog. I appreciate your consideration of my words and thoughts.