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Wed, Jul 30, 2014 01:09 PM
Issue of July 23, 2014

A hope note
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A hope note
Dr. Wayne Willis reflects on life and hope.

Independence, indeed

July 02, 2014 | 10:31 AM

Three memories come to me when I think about Independence Day. The first two you would expect from an old history buff.

The 1776 Declaration of Independence seemed foolish, if not crazy, to most of the world. How dare 13 upstart governments declare that they are no longer subjects of the invincible British Empire! But Jefferson's statement that "all men are created equal" and "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights" including "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" became the moral standard for freedom-loving people throughout the world, but only after the colonies won a Revolutionary War.

The 1863 battle at Gettysburg, "four score and seven years" later, tested "whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure." More than 40,000 men were killed or wounded at Gettysburg. On July 3, the failure of Pickett's charge up Cemetery Ridge secured the survival of the one-nation dream.

I'm grateful that teachers made me memorize Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and the first few sentences of the Declaration of Independence.

My third Independence Day memory goes back to 1962, when I was working my way through college by selling books door-to-door in West Texas. I sold more books and made more money on July 4 than on any day that summer. Farm families were at home cooking out and feeling good, good enough to fork out cash for a new dictionary or Bible to this Tennessee boy who convinced them he had a book they should not be without. I collected more than $500 cash that day, enough for my college tuition that fall. They may have bought because they felt sorry for me, having to work on a holiday, but I smiled all the way back to my little rented room.

Is this a great country or what?

Dr. Wayne Willis


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Corydon Democrat, 301 N. Capitol Ave., Corydon, IN 47112 1-812-738-2211 email