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Let’s all take 10 minutes on July Fourth to read the Declaration of Independence. The principles on which our drive toward freedom and human dignity began shouldn’t be forgotten. They form a short, potent statement with direct importance for our current national policies.

From our schooling many of us remember its assertions that each and every person is born with rights, the truth of which remain with us regardless of government action. (That the Declaration was blind to its own failures isn’t reason for us to not apply the principles to today’s world.) But it also lists the King’s usurpations of these rights, including one of our most divisive issues: “obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither. …” The U.S. is for everyone.

The Constitution and Bill of Rights also have been willfully neglected. This should be our most important civic debate. So let us each contact our leaders, in all levels of government and in our schools and places of worship, and ask them to honor what makes us great.

Step one: Ask Congress to modify the Pledge of Allegiance to include these founding documents and principles. They are the best of us.

Neil Berkowitz, Seattle