In his new book, The Declaration of Independence: The Words That Made America
, Sam Fink painstakingly illustrates a document that changed the world just in time for its 226th birthday this Fourth of July.
"I'm just so happy to be born in America," Fink said in a recent interview with Scholastic News. "Two years ago, I read the Declaration of Independence for the first time, and thought, 'What a wonderful piece of work. Wouldn't it be great to illustrate this?' So I sat down, just out of sheer joy, and started to work."
It took more than a year for this 86-year-old artist and grandfather of seven to hand draw each word in the Declaration. Then, Fink illustrated every phrase with drawings of 18th-century politicians, soldiers, and ordinary people. Fink said he hopes that by reading his book, young people will better understand a document that helped build a new nation.
"Every year we celebrate [the Fourth of July]," said Fink. "We have bonfires, cookouts, fireworks, music, parades. But nobody ever reads the wonderful words that I believe made America. The history of our nation is just glossed over."
Fink said that after the terrorist attacks on September 11, he felt it was especially important for young people to read a declaration that promises every human being the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
"I think young people tend to take for granted our young nation," Fink said. "This country is a great place. There's no place like it. It's not perfect, but our freedom is so valuable. We have to keep our eyes and ears open all the time to defend it and protect it."
Fink said young people should also remember that, thanks to the Declaration of Independence, thousands of immigrants from all over the world come here every day seeking a better life. He said he often thought about his own grandmother, who came to America from Poland in 1885, when he worked on the book.
"She couldn't read or write," Fink said. "Now my children and grandchildren are going to college. It's wonderful, and we owe it all to the Declaration of Independence."