Opinion: Declaration a plea for purpose, respect

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Commentary by Jeff Worrell

As I write this column, the Rotary Club of Carmel is in a last-minute scramble managing hundreds of details for Carmel’s largest festival. CarmelFest is our beloved July Fourth celebration that traces its origins back to before 1900 when Carmel was then called Bethlehem. However, it wasn’t until the late 1980s that the event was officially renamed CarmelFest. The parade, KidsZone, live music, food and fireworks extravaganza celebrate our community and our country’s founding. Although modern celebrations are a far cry from the turmoil of the Revolutionary War, they echo the Founders’ spirit of unity despite differences.

CBS’s John Dickerson in 2018 highlighted how the Founders crafted the Declaration of Independence with Thomas Jefferson wanting a “decent respect to the opinions of mankind,” even amid their incivility. If they were going to be uncivil, the declaration showed they still had respect for the larger audience, all of mankind. This document wasn’t just a proclamation but a plea for purpose and respect.

Each year, Independence Day gatherings across America call us to renew our commitment to these values. Abraham Lincoln echoed this in the Gettysburg Address, reminding us that we are an example to the world. Today, our behaviors reflect whether our incivilities have a higher purpose or are just power plays. Let the spirit of CarmelFest stay with you all year, honoring the intent behind our independence.

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