Some of the most powerful words in history: The Declaration of Independence.
“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”
That was my portion of the reading. While the current president of Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association traditionally reads the first section of the Declaration, I felt moved to have veteran, Sgt. Virgil Poe, lead our reading this year by starting with the first section. Though I have known his son, Congressman Ted Poe, for most of my life, this was the first time I had the honor and privilege of meeting Sgt. Poe. He began our 6th Annual Reading of the Declaration of Independence with the grace, dignity, and honor of a true American. Throughout the reading, he followed along with his pocket reference and rejoiced with an Amen or other affirmation at each passage. It was truly humbling to hear his love for our country with his words.
July 2, 2015 was truly a memorable day. Surrounded by fellow members of HCCLA, we gathered on the courthouse steps and watched as a crowd formed to listen. One by one, we took turns reading portions of the Declaration. The crowd stood silent and reveled in these mighty words.
All men are created equal. Self-evident truths: life, liberty, pursuit of happiness. Government derives its power from consent of the governed. Right of the People to abolish or alter government. Objection to tyranny. List of grievances committed by the crown: taxation without consent; cutting off trade; keeping standing armies in times of peace; arbitrary government; judges dependent upon his will; obstructed administration of justice; depriving the benefit of trial by jury. In sum, a declaration of freedom for the people.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
You can read more, by Philip Gommels, in his blog and recount of the event.
Additionally, our humble tradition has been carried across the State of Texas by Robert Fickman. This year accounted for more than 138 readings across the State and around the nation. More from around the State can be seen here: http://www.criminaldefensedeclarationreading.com/