A column about history, culture, policy, and things in between.
One of my favorite movies is National Treasure, another in a long line of Jerry Bruckheimer masterpieces. Bruckheimer is a film-maker extraordinaire, and has proven time and again that excellent cinematic entertainment is possible without heaping gobs of gore, violence, or gratuitously overdone sex upon the viewers. Treasure is certainly fanciful, but is full of winsome adventure, romance, history, and humor, and is a great film for for all ages.
There is a pivotal scene in the movie where Ben Gates (Nicholas Cage) and his sidekick Riley are gazing at the original Declaration of Independence in the National Archives. While reading aloud an exerpt, Gates pauses to comment to his friend, "You know - people don't talk like that anymore".
The closing stanza of the Declaration, authored by the thirty-three year old Thomas Jefferson and edited by John Adams and Ben Franklin, makes the following statement:
"And for the support of this Declaration we mutually pledge to each other.........our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor".
This was no idle fop thrown in for good measure by a privaledged set of elitists. This was a solemn pledge by all who signed to stand firm upon those words in the bitter winds they knew would blow. Many did sacrifice their fortunes. And many would dangle at the end of a British rope for their audacity.
When they signed the document the only thing more precious to them than America's independence and liberty was this notion of their own personal honor was at stake. And perhaps more important, the knowledge that they themselves were ultimately and solely responsible for maintaining that honor. .
Ben Gates was right - people don't talk like that anymore.
Perhaps the best way to honor these courageous individuals, whose sacrifice purchased the liberties we have enjoyed for over two centuries, is to remember their words.
And what the heck - maybe we can even use them once in a while.