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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
8:58 AM Mon, Nov. 19th

Editorial: Be thankful for our rights

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..."

That sentence is the beginning of the most famous line of the Declaration of Independence. The men who penned the Declaration were claiming that "all men are created equal" and "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights."

With the debates, laws and squabbles nowadays over immigration, religion, the "war on women," and civil rights, it is easy to forget that when the term "self-evident" is used, it means that human rights require no defense because their virtue is unquestionable.

Sadly, not everyone knows this; in fact, according to a Gallup Poll, only 49 percent of those surveyed can correctly identify this sentence as coming from the Declaration of Independence. How then can we expect they - or everyone else - know what it means?

Today we celebrate America's birth. The importance of this day may be lost on many of us - who do not realize the effort, sacrifices, dedication and patriotism that went into the freedoms we enjoy.

Since it is what governs us, case law shows:

• We should be thankful for our rights, including - but not limited to - the right of personal security, the right of personal liberty, and the right to acquire and enjoy property. They are rights that have been declared to be natural, inherent and unalienable. (Atchison & N.R. Co. v. Baty)

• "Absolute rights" are those in their primary and strictest sense, such as would belong to their persons merely in a state of nature, and which every man is entitled to enjoy, whether out of society or in it. ... They existed before the Constitution was made, or the government was organized. (People v. Berberrich; McCartee v. Orphan Asylum Soc.)

The people who put their names to the Declaration of Independence were far from perfect, but they had a lot more substance to them than many of the people in the same positions of leadership today.

We are celebrating today with rodeos, picnics, special sales, trips and fireworks. Be thankful for the rights you have.

Take nothing for granted and expect more.