On July 4th, 1776, the signing of the Declaration of Independence marked the formal inception of the United States of America. While serving as the foundational document of the American Revolution, it also provided a profound statement on rights of mankind and the proper relationship between government and citizens. Now, just 238 years since that seminal moment, we celebrate the improbable creation of our nation, and its enduring values which continue to make America the beacon on the hill for the rest of the world.
Articulated with profound eloquence, our Founding Fathers understood that the unalienable rights of mankind – “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” – were endowed by our creator and not by a monarch or king. This means that these rights cannot be taken away, and that the role of government is simply to secure them for citizens, not to dictate their realization.
The Declaration of Independence declares that our government “derives its just power from the consent of the governed.” Rooted in the concept of “We the People,” our founders understood the basic yet transformative principle that government works for the people, and not the other way around.
It is easy now to assume the inevitability of America’s inception and subsequent development. However, the Declaration of Independence closes with a humbling reminder of the improbable circumstances under which America was born.
“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 56 signers were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for even the remote possibility of a country governed by the ideals embodied in the document they had just signed.
Today we give thanks to the freedoms we have been blessed with and celebrate the uniquely American values which continue to compose the fabric of our national identity. But we also should remember that those rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have never been more vulnerable. The fight to protect them and secure them for future generations is ongoing and vital.
This is still the greatest country in the world, but only if we fight for it. I am privileged to have been given the opportunity to join you in that fight.
I hope you and your family have an enjoyable and patriotic weekend.
God bless you all, and happy 4th of July.