As the sun begins to set on this, our 241st year since the declaration of our independence from the tyranny of Great Britain, I ponder the meaning of this great document and of course, its relevance to runners.
While I am trained as a scientist, my hobby is history as my father drug his young children to every historical site , both Revolutionary and Civil, on the eastern seaboard. There was no magic kingdom in our Summer vacation plans, but how about the site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War? So a brief history lesson. The United States ratified what we now know as our Constitution in June of 1788 but before any of that, was the Declaration of Independence. The Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and voted to declare independence from Great Britain on July 2, 1776. The Declaration of Independence was the justification for their action and was ratified two days later on July 4th, our “Independence Day”. So why the attraction to the Declaration? The Constitution is what defines our rights as Americans and lays the foundation for our government and legal systems. The answer seems easy – straight American audacity. We, a budding group of colonial upstarts declared that we were free and in words so powerful that they speak to the soul of every American hundreds of years after its writing: “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.” This one sentence is the moral standard to which we Americans aspire.
This morning as I pushed through the last mile of our yearly 4th of July race, Four on the 4th, I pondered the deep connection that the running community has with this moral standard. We as runners believe we are living most fully when we run remote trails or pound the pavement. We feel truly free as running allows us to take a brief respite from our daily cares of bills, health issues, and work stresses. And when we fly along the trails with a gentle breeze and a beautiful vista unfolding in front of our gaze, we find our happiness. Our community calls to everyone: “Come join us! You don’t need expensive watches or shoes. We don’t care your profession or level of academic achievement. Who cares if you own a mansion or rent 1-bedroom apartment and live off of Ramen noodles. Your last name, country of origin, or the faith you chose is irrelevant. There is room for us all on these paths. Find the happiness, freedom, and fellowship that we have found on the journey. Come join us!”
So as the sun sets today, God Bless America, a country where we are able to run free.