Happy 243rd Birthday, America!

In honor of another year of the free, I thought it would be a perfect time to post the document that started this great democracy experiment–The Declaration of Independence. You probably haven’t thought to read this since high school history class (if you really even read it then). Take a moment and read it now. Remember, the 4th of July isn’t just about BBQs, apple pie, and fireworks, it is about celebrating our strong nation ruled BY the people. If you doubt that, make it your goal to change it and to be heard! WE, THE PEOPLE!

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Note: This text is a transcription of the Stone Engraving of the parchment Declaration of Independence (the document on display in the Rotunda at the National Archives Museum.) The spelling and punctuation reflects the original. https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript

A Very Special Launch Day

When Cord Scott and I were planning the Launch day of his book FOUR COLOUR COMBAT, this date, April 16, stood out for its special meaning. The following is a note from the author we’d like to share:

This book is a personal one for me. All books are, but my ancestors guided this one. When I was in graduate school, 2008 was a difficult year initially. I had lost my job as a college administrator just before, and I was struggling to find work. I was also researching my dissertation when I applied for and was accepted to attend, a battlefield tour with the Gregg Centre from New Brunswick to the battlefields of Sicily and Italy. I felt that my grandfather, Jerry Smetana, who served with the Third Infantry Division in World War II and had been on this ground, guided this application.

While I was on the trip, I was able to see so many places Jerry saw, and I wondered what he felt as he looked upon these same areas. I also gained a far greater appreciation of the incredible fighting that the Canadians endured. I was able to connect with some great friends and colleagues, who influenced me in terms of writing (a book review of the Canadian contingent in Korea) and research (a visit from the other American on the trip on a cold day in Tokyo of all places!). And most of all it was this trip that allowed me to connect and share in the camaraderie with this group. I am still in awe of what they have produced for history and am proud that they continue to run that tour and others as well.

This book officially launches, today, April 16, the day after my grandmother Evelyn Smetana (nee Davis) would have turned 98. While 2008 started with sadness and angst (grandma passed in January that year), I was able to persevere gaining work by the fall of 2008.

There are other personal recollections that I hold dear, but this book comes from both the lows and highs of life. For those who struggle with doubt or those who think it can’t be done, I am the embodiment that it can. Neither of my grandparents written about here ever rose above an eighth-grade education; however, their first-born grandson was the first to graduate from high school, the second family to graduate from college, and the first to earn a Doctorate. Ever forward, ever forward.

Click here to order FOUR COLOUR COMBAT from Amazon.


The wrong ending...

I have struggled for days trying to come up with something to say that could ease the pain of such senseless terrorism but I have nothing but silence.

These victims, some who survived unspeakable horrors, had their lives cut short by unfathomable hatred.

My heart breaks for their families and friends but I urge them to keep alive the memories and stories of their loved ones. These stories must not die. We must tell their stories and the stories of all of our histories. Telling them as a reminder of what is good, what is not, and hopefully these stories can become a lesson to all who hear.

Never forget history–where we came from, what was fought for, what we must preserve. We are here to love and help because of our humanity not our color, religion, or gender.

Be kind. Be empathic. Be brave. Be you.

My Why...

Exactly two months ago, the W. Brand Publishing website launched. It is amazing where we are after such a short time–morphing into an even more useful outlet for writers and self-published authors. I am beyond excited about the projects we are working on and promoting. You’ll see those soon.

In the meantime, my intent was always to start this blog with my why–that thing that drove me to start a company in an already saturated publishing industry. Truly it is my love of the story–the lines formed from heart-baring emotion, the connection to the reader, and gorgeous typefaces (I would be lying if I didn’t admit to my love of type). In the our story segment on this site, you read about the inspiration of the company name–how after 21 years I still grieve my father’s lost stories. It is a sort of grieving that only paying-it-forward can quell. In some small way, he will live on through others’ stories if only because our authors now have the opportunity to tell them.

This is where my passion lies…to empower writers to find a voice that breaks down the barriers in the hearts and minds of readers who need to hear the message–to heal, to connect, to remind, to survive.

And now you know why