Saturday, July 4, 2009
This was originally posted in a shorter version on 4 July. This is the longer version that comprised my weekly update to family and friends.
I have always loved the way America celebrates the Fourth because it is the one-day that Americans generally let loose with an incredible display of spirit, patriotism and love of country. What is lost however, is that in many ways, everyday is a Fourth of July, because everyday the very values that our founders fought for, sought to build a nation on, are at risk. That is not meant to be an indictment in anyway; we just have a tendency I think to take what is in the Declaration of Independence, our founding charter if you were, for granted. One need only look at the divide in Europe to see the truth of that statement; the nations of Western Europe are largely weak defenders of liberty and freedom today, while the newly free nations of the former Soviet Bloc (led by stalwarts like Poland) are the European champions of Freedom. They know what the other-side of the coin bears and are loathe to return to it.
I think it is an excellent time, on the Fourth of July to re-read the words of the great Patriot Thomas Jefferson (who founded one political party, and the ideological underpinnings of the other) that have been immortalized in our Declaration:
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.
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.
The power of those words to move are just as vibrant today as they were in the hearts of American Patriots in that fateful summer of 1776. It would warm the heart and spirit of many through the hard winters that saw tragedies (and triumphs) like Valley Forge. As Americans, we are inheritors of that legacy and we will pass it down to those who come after us. Our pledge is that with the guidance and protection of Divine Providence (One Nation Under God), we will ensure that the Blessings of Liberty will be passed to the next generation and are not less than what we inherited.