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.
Declaration of Independence, 1776

These words are the core of the United States national identity. We bring them up from the middle layers of our memory, where the creeds, tenets, and mottoes we cherish take on words. It’s easy to bring up an image of white-wigged men standing around a document, looking very serious in their waistcoats. Easier still to conjure an image, like the one above, of a barely decipherable old document with a fancy quill pen on it. But how often do we break the words we have memorized into their individual phrases and consider them more deeply? it is only in doing so that we can gain greater understanding of what the men who wrote it meant it to mean, and what it means for us, as a community of American citizens, today.

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