Ken Hare In Depth: Today's politicians risk little; those who fo - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Ken Hare In Depth: Today's politicians risk little; those who forged nation risked all

  • THE GREAT OUTDOORSKen Hare's Natural AlabamaMore>>

  • Natural Alabama

    Boat trip into Mobile-Tensaw Delta is magical

    Boat trip into Mobile-Tensaw Delta is magical

    Sunday, November 5 2017 9:34 AM EST2017-11-05 14:34:07 GMT
    A Bald Eagle soaring over the delta (Photo Ken Hare)A Bald Eagle soaring over the delta (Photo Ken Hare)

    To truly grasp the importance of protecting the Mobile-Tensaw Delta , I recommend a boat trip into the heart of "Alabama's Amazon."

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    To truly grasp the importance of protecting the Mobile-Tensaw Delta , I recommend a boat trip into the heart of "Alabama's Amazon."

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  • Natural Alabama

    Australian native now Alabama shorebird expert

    Australian native now Alabama shorebird expert

    Monday, October 30 2017 6:05 AM EDT2017-10-30 10:05:33 GMT
    Field trip leader Andrew Haffenden points out a warbler at the Fort Morgan stables area. (Photo Ken Hare).jpgField trip leader Andrew Haffenden points out a warbler at the Fort Morgan stables area. (Photo Ken Hare).jpg

    NA Andrew Natural Alabama 10-27-17 Australian native now Alabama shorebird expert By Ken Hare Advice to new birders from anywhere: Get to know good birders, and go with them on trips into the field to see birds whenever you can. It is one of the best ways I know to learn about birds and birding. Advice to new birders who bird (or want to bird) on the Alabama coast: Get to know Andrew Haffenden, and go with him into the field every chance you get.  It is one of the best ways ...

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    NA Andrew Natural Alabama 10-27-17 Australian native now Alabama shorebird expert By Ken Hare Advice to new birders from anywhere: Get to know good birders, and go with them on trips into the field to see birds whenever you can. It is one of the best ways I know to learn about birds and birding. Advice to new birders who bird (or want to bird) on the Alabama coast: Get to know Andrew Haffenden, and go with him into the field every chance you get.  It is one of the best ways ...

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  • Ken Hare's Natural Alabama

    Dauphin Island, Fort Morgan deliver great birds

    Dauphin Island, Fort Morgan deliver great birds

    Saturday, October 21 2017 9:50 AM EDT2017-10-21 13:50:02 GMT
    Greater Yellowlegs (Photo Ken Hare).jpgGreater Yellowlegs (Photo Ken Hare).jpg

    Among the highlights of the year for many Alabama birders are the fall and spring meetings of the Alabama Ornithological Society on Dauphin Island. The fall meeting earlier this month did not disappoint, despite part of the island remaining off limits because of lingering damage from Hurricane Nate.

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    Among the highlights of the year for many Alabama birders are the fall and spring meetings of the Alabama Ornithological Society on Dauphin Island. The fall meeting earlier this month did not disappoint, despite part of the island remaining off limits because of lingering damage from Hurricane Nate.

    More >>
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

"When in the course of human events..."

So begins one of a handful of documents so crucial to this nation's history and even existence that every American should understand them and the circumstances surrounding how they came to be.

As you celebrate Independence Day, I urge you to take a moment to remember those men who gathered in Philadelphia 238 years ago to forge a new nation.

Also take a moment to consider whether this nation would have emerged in 1776 if the caliber of  elected officials we had then matched the caliber of those we have today.

That body of 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence contained such great minds as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin.

Jefferson, who penned the bulk of Declaration, may well have been the greatest intellect this nation has  known. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy hosted a gathering of Nobel Prize winners. He told them, "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone. "

But Adams, Franklin and many others among the delegates to the Second Continental Congress were no slouches as intellectuals, either.

However, it wasn't just their education and intelligence that would set them apart from today's national political figures. Perhaps more important was their collective willingness to seek compromise for the common good, their ability to think for themselves, and their personal courage and sense of sacrifice to act upon their own reasoning and beliefs.

The men who signed the Declaration weren't just risking their political futures when they mutually pledged "to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

The signers of the Declaration were truly placing their lives and fortunes on the line. By declaring independence from Britain, they knew they risked imprisonment and even execution for treason. But even though there were huge gulfs in their thinking when they first gathered in Philadelphia, they managed to hammer out the foundation for a new nation.

Contrast that to today's national political leadership.

 Instead of the independent thinkers who signed the Declaration, far too many in Congress today are content to mindlessly parrot rhetoric from the Left or the Right.

Instead of seeking middle ground for the common good, today's elected officials too often dig in their heels for political gain. The result is that progress is stymied on everything from sound fiscal policy to immigration reform.

Instead of showing courage, too many of today's elected officials are wimps. The signers of the Declaration knew they could face death or imprisonment; the worst today's politicians could face is the loss of a few percentage points in the polls.

Don't take this wrong. I believe there are men and women who think for themselves and with political and personal courage in national elective office today. But not nearly enough of them.

I fear that if the Second Continental Congress had been made up of the majority of people of the caliber we have in Washington today, the United States may never have come to be.

So as you gather with family and friends at the beach or lake or around the backyard grill to celebrate the Fourth of July, take a moment to remember and thank those 56 men who forged the Declaration of Independence and the foundation for our great nation. Without their courage and foresight, we may never have known the freedoms we take for granted today.

(By the way, the seminal documents that I believe every American should know and understand are the Declaration, the preamble to the U.S. Constitution and at least Articles 1-4, the Bill of Rights, and the Emancipation Proclamation and the later 13th Amendment, which together ended slavery in this nation.)

Ken Hare was a longtime Alabama newspaper editorial writer and editorial page editor who now writes a regular column for wsfa.com. Email him at khare@wsfa.com.

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