Not so long ago, nor so far away

Friday, July 2, 2004

Years and years away from 1776 ... and miles and miles away from Philadelphia ... you might think that McCook, Nebraska, is far removed from America's Day of Independence: July 4, 1776.

But, on closer inspection, you will discover the connection is more direct than you originally believed. Leafing through the pages of the McCook telephone book, you will find that more than 100 listings have the same names as the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

What does that tell us, all these many years later? For one thing, it shows that the contributions of America's founders are being carried forward across this great land by succeeding generations. It also shows that this town in the middle of America contains a cross-section of the descendants of the core settlers of America.

It has been 228 years since America declared its independence. That is a long time, but the span of years doesn't seem nearly so lengthy when you consider that it equals the lifespans of three people who live to the age of 76.

Now, as then, the fires of patriotism burn brightly.

Except for those families who have fully traced their family trees, it is difficult to know for sure how many families are of the same lineage as were the signers of the Declaration of Independence. However, odds are that there are several, if not more, in McCook who are directly linked to the founding fathers.

All of us in America share the responsibility of upholding the liberty that this nation declared on Independence Day. The words are so familiar and they ring so true: "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."

After spelling out the colonies' grievances against Great Britain, the " ... Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled," declared, "That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States ... "

All these many years later, we remain grateful to the 55 original citizens who declared America's independence. Twenty-one of them have namesakes in McCook. The list includes: (Name first, followed by the number of those with the same name in the McCook phone book: Adams (2); Carroll (1); Chase (1); Clark (7); Franklin (1); Hall (9); Hancock (1); Harrison (3); Hart (2); Hopkins (1); Lee (3); Lewis (2); Lynch (2); Morris (5); Nelson (9); Ross (3); Smith (16); Stone (5); Taylor (4); Williams (9); and Wilson (10).

The signers were our great, great, great grandfathers, and beyond, yet our responsibility remains as great as was theirs. We, as American citizens, must uphold the right of these United States to be "Free and Independent."

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