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Opinion Editorial

In less than 200 years, America grew from a handful of colonies to become the greatest nation in history. In a few hundred years, we surpassed nations that were many times older. What makes America great?

The two main elements that make America great are our people and our freedoms. Our people have a can do, nothing is impossible, spirit. Starting with the American Revolution, we have always conquered adversity, often in the face of overwhelming odds.

We have more rights and freedoms than anywhere else in the world. Our freedoms are considered inalienable rights, not privileges granted by government. Our freedoms are the envy of the world. Every item in the bill of rights is a precious jewel, designed to ensure the immortality of our liberty.

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We elevate the events of the American Revolution to near-mythical status all too often and forget that the real revolutionaries were people just like you and me. Caught up in the drama of Red Coats marching, muskets exploding and flags waving in the night, we lose sight of the enduring significance of the Revolution and what makes it relevant to our world today. Those revolutionaries, by and large, were neither agitators nor hotheads. They were not looking for trouble or trying to start a fight. Like many today, they were simply trying to make it from one day to another, a task that was increasingly difficult as Britain’s rule became more and more oppressive.

The American Revolution did not so much start with a bang as with a whimper—a literal cry for relief from people groaning under the weight of Britain’s demands. The seeds of discontent had been sown early on. By the time the Stamp Act went into effect on November 1, 1765, the rumbling had become a roar.

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The current thrust to encourage people to shop locally is a double-edged sword. Followed rigorously, many communities such as Franklin would find themselves in dire (or more dire) economic shape if the money spigot from outside the area was reduced to a trickle. Imagine if people from Florida and elsewhere switched from vacations here to staycations at home. Or, instead of a mountain second home, opted for a beach house. Is the concept of “shop locally” only something for “our” locals to adhere to?

I buy a fair amount online, many times for things I can't find locally, such as a bass ukulele or an electric kazoo. Another consideration for online purchases is when the cost of an item is significantly lower than I could find in a retail store.

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How many times have you heard that “ignorance of the law is no excuse?” Well, add one more time to that total, plus its Latin translation of Ignorantia juris non excusat. It's been repeated so often, surely it must be true – or is it?

My friend Stacy was ticketed by a North Carolina Wildlife Officer at Fontana Lake during the Memorial Day weekend (a holiday celebrating “freedom”) because his canoe did not contain personal flotation devices for the two aboard. Stacy was unaware of the recent change in the law that had previously exempted unmechanized boats such as the original personal flotation device – the canoe. Traveling in only waist deep water, it didn’t cross his mind he was in danger. However, he was certainly in danger of being ticketed by an over zealous officer to the tune of $215. Stacy tried to reason that if he had known he would have complied with the new law so why not a warning instead? The ignorance of the law mantra was repeated by the officer as if it trumped any kind of logic or sense of fairness.

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