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Our View: For the Fourth, read the declaration anew

From the editorial: "Power to the people: As cliche as the phrase may now be, it has deep and significant roots."

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They are, perhaps, the most famous 1,322 words ever strung together. And in assembling them, Thomas Jefferson accomplished far more than simply announcing to the world that the American colonies were severing ties with England.

With the Declaration of Independence — adopted by the Continental Congress this week in 1776 in Philadelphia's Independence Hall — Jefferson and his fellow patriots established a nation with liberties, freedoms, and rights that are enjoyed to this day, that generations have fought for and perished to preserve and to uphold, and that too many of us take for granted.

The Declaration was a bold statement from a devoted citizenry that our government should serve a sole purpose: to protect citizens' unalienable rights, "that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," as the document reads.

That purpose doesn't include unnecessary, heavy-handed laws or rules that control citizens' lives. In fact, should government overstep its bounds, the Declaration established the right — and the responsibility — of the people to "alter or abolish any form of government (that) becomes destructive."

Power to the people: As cliche as the phrase may now be, it has deep and significant roots. "Not only is this document relevant in our world today, but it is the bible by which our country survives," writer Clary Elizabeth of Fort Worth, Texas, penned in January 2008.

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And not only is the Declaration worth reading and re-reading, it's worth studying and citing. By any American. From any generation.

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