From Homer Hickam's Book: 'Sky of Stone'
I was reading Homer Hickam's book: Sky of Stone when this passage riveted me with its profound wisdom, succinctly stated. Hickam describes a 4th of July celebration in Coalwood where the Reverend gave this invocation [1.]:
"Dear Lord, we are gathered here to celebrate not just the independence of our great land, but also the document on which it stands. There is much to admire in that document but what we best remember is this: We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
To prepare for this invocation today, I have pondered long and hard these words. Most of you know that I rarely go anywhere without my Bible. It is an old Bible. It belonged to my grandfather. What you don't know is that inside this book, I have always kept a copy of the Declaration of Independence. It also belonged to my grandfather. He believed it to be as Holy as his Bible.
When I was a boy, somebody once asked me if my grandfather had been a slave. I couldn't imagine that could be true so I went to him and asked him: Grandfather, were you a slave? He said, Child, a man called me that but I was never a slave and you know why? Because I could read. My mama, she taught me when that man wasn't looking, just as her mama taught her.
When he became officially a free man, my grandfather purchased this Bible and a copy of the Declaration of Independence. He kept them both until the day he died. He left them to me.
I have come to understand my grandfather was right. No man or woman can be a slave if they can read. Especially if they can read the Bible and the American Declaration of Independence.
But that means there are still slaves in this land. There are slaves who do not know that they have inalienable rights given to them by God, and that they also have, by the grace of the Lord, life, liberty, and the right to pursue their happiness and the happiness of their families.
They are slaves to their own ignorance. Ignorance is the ultimate slave owner.
So on this 4th of July, I pray a special prayer.I pray for the day when the tyranny of ignorance will be banished all across this great land and every man, woman, and child can read and understand what they read.
I pray for that day.I pray every day for that day."
The good Reverend had planted in me a renewed vision of the mission before us. That is the mission of educating ourselves and our children.
The U.S. Capitol.