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It’s the week of the 4th of July – Independence Day. Sanpete and the rest of the country will be celebrating the 243rd anniversary of the birthday of America.

There will be celebrations in several Sanpete communities. Mt. Pleasant, Moroni, Manti and Gunnison have “doings” for Independence Day.

Like many areas in Utah, some communities in Sanpete sponsor events for the 4th of July and others wait and take their turn to throw parties and parades for Utah’s Pioneer Day holiday on the 24th of July.

The “birth event” we celebrate, as the “birthday” of our United States is the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. The Continental Congress did this on July 4th, 1776.

Many Americans believe that the Declaration was signed on July 4th. But historians generally agree that it was August before most of the 56 men inked their signatures onto the document.

Some years back, I was in Washington D.C. and stood in line at the National Archives to take a peek at the Declaration of Independence. Along with the Constitution of the United States, it is arguably the most important document in America — aside from the as yet to be issued mortgage release papers on my home.

I was awed by personally seeing the Declaration. What a monumental step it was for the colonists to tell Britain’s King George, “It was nice while it lasted, but we now want a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences” or something like that.

I love Thomas Jefferson’s way with words in the document. Having the unalienable rights of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” is, in and of itself, a great motto for all of us.

It occurs to me that the feeling of not having those rights may be the reason some people seek divorces in husband and wife relationships when things become irreconcilable. I know I like to pursue happiness and don’t want people trying to stop me.

Independence for America was gained through a hard fight. That fight had already been going on for more than a year before July 4th, 1776. After the war, it wasn’t until 1787 that the Constitution was hammered out and finally adopted in 1789.

Our government evolved through a pain staking process. It’s a great system that has been the model of many other nations who have gained their independence in the years since the American Revolution. Former Utah Supreme Court Justice and law professor, now an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dallin H. Oaks has called the U.S. Constitution our nation’s most important export.

Even at 243, we’re really quite a young nation when compared to many of the “old countries.” Switzerland celebrates a national day on Aug. 1st tracing back to the year 1291. That was when they had an alliance against the Holy Roman Empire.

But there are many countries that are relatively newly independent. Many gained independence in the 1960s and 1970s. The Bahamas, for example, became independent from England on July 10, 1973.

Changing moods here now, I have a few riddles for you as we celebrate America’s independence. You can use these as a quiz for your family holiday picnic.

What did King George think of the American colonists? He thought they were revolting!

What did one flag say to the other flag? Nothing. It just waved!

What is red, white, black and blue? Uncle Sam falling down the steps!

Did you hear the joke about the Liberty Bell? Yeah, it cracked me up!

What would you call a patriotic small curly-haired dog? Yankee Poodle!

What’s the difference between a duck and George Washington? One has a bill on his face; the other has his face on a bill.

Enjoy a happy, safe, patriotic holiday time Sanpete. Be especially careful if you set off fireworks. And if you drink, be especially careful too. I’ve heard that if you drink a fifth on the fourth, you won’t come forth on the fifth. Happy Independence Day!

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