Celebrating 231 Years of Freedom
For many of us, the Fourth of July is a celebration of summer - a much needed day of celebration where we head out to enjoy fireworks, fanfare, barbecues, baseball and parades. The anniversary of our nation's birth should include all things celebratory, but should also invoke a sense of gratitude and pride. After all, it was 231 years ago that 56 patriots - considered rebels in their time - got together to sign a document that was not just a declaration, but a philosophy; not just a proclamation of independence, but a revolution of democracy. We are heirs to that revolution and we continue to uphold the ideals of freedom as the standard for all people, in all parts of the world.
Even Thomas Jefferson, as he drafted the Declaration of Independence, knew full well that he faced the penalty of death should the American Revolution fail. He was aware that a number of Americans and members of the Second Continental Congress adamantly disagreed with the idea of fighting for our freedom. Yet Jefferson, instead of kneeling in the face of doubt, stood up urging his fellow Americans to set politics aside to work collectively towards assuring the safety, security, and most of all, liberty of the American colonies. Today, more than two centuries later, as our brave men and women in uniform face the enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan, we find ourselves in a position similar to Jefferson's; one where we must set politics aside and unite for the good of our nation. We must collectively fight for the ideals Founders like Jefferson so eloquently expressed, to assure our safety and security, and to continue the course towards freedom.
Those heroic few saw freedom not as a privilege, but bestowed by the Almighty. Few thought that the American declaration could withstand the threats of the most powerful nation of that time, but the conviction of our Founders and the power of their vision overcame tyranny. Now, freedom in our time is not merely an historic American concept more than 200 years ago, it is a global concept that people vigorously embrace on this very day - one for which our brave men and women are defending, both at home and abroad, and that we as Americans continue to stand strong in its defense.
So, let us celebrate the birth of America just as our Founding Fathers intended; John Adams, writing to his wife Abigail in July of 1776 stated: "I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival... with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward for evermore." Even 231 years later, in an hour of different, yet crucial challenges for our country, we remain a people dedicated to the ideals of liberty, freedom, and justice for all. So in the "pomp and parade" this Fourth of July, let us take a minute and take stock of the liberty and freedom this country has stood for since its birth on a humid Philadelphia afternoon over 200 years ago, thanking not only those who conceived our country's truths, but those who actively protect them still, both with the uniform and without. America is thankful, America is proud, and America must remain vigilant and continue to stand for our liberties and freedoms that generations of patriots have spilled blood to protect.