Fourth of July 2002 has come and gone, and Americans honored the holiday with a renewed patriotic fervor that reminded me of the Bicentennial celebrations of 1976. As is customary, traditional fireworks displays took center stage and scores of people turned out to witness the dazzling show in the summer sky. With mixed feelings, I sat with friends on a crowded Pennsylvania sidewalk beneath a glittering, mesmerizing explosion of color, pondering the keen sense of sadness and betrayal that overwhelmed my spirit. Looking around at the huge crowds gathered for the annual events, I thought silently, "We are not free." In truth, we have not been a free people for a very long time.
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
— Preamble of the original "organic" Constitution
"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; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."
— Excerpted from the Declaration of Independence of the original thirteen united states of America, July 4, 1776