A Great People and A Great Nation
July 3, 2017
Independence Day has always been one of my favorite national holidays. From the parades, the cookouts, the flags and fireworks, and the outpouring of national pride and patriotism, it's simply a great day to celebrate with family, friends and community. But it's also a time to reflect on our nation's Founding Fathers and documents, and to give thanks to providence for giving us the privilege of living in the greatest country in the world.
Two hundred and forty one years ago, on July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress declared: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights, that among them are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." The document in which these immortal words were contained was the Declaration of Independence - which, together with the Constitution, are the bedrock upon which the nation was founded. This document was drafted by "The Committee of Five," consisting of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston. Jefferson and Adams outlived the other three, and remarkably both passed away on July 4, 1826, exactly fifty years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Our nation was founded by great patriots and hearty citizens. We've not always gotten things right the first time - slavery, Jim Crow laws, unethical dealings with Native Americans - but in the purported words of Winston Churchill: "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing after they have tried everything else." The Emancipation Proclamation, the Civil Rights Act and the Suffrage movement all serve as evidence that Prime Minister Churchill was right. The 241 year old words in the Declaration that “all men (and women) are created equal,” have guided and informed our nation and caused us to evolve and change in ways that may not have always been comfortable, but in the end, have always turned out to be equitable.
President Trump ran on a slogan of “Make America Great Again." Students of history may recall that President Reagan ran on the same slogan in 1980. Both presidents succeeded controversial incumbents whom many Americans thought had weakened the country and made us less than great. The truth is that while our government has not always been great, our people have always been. The spirit of Jefferson, Adams, Franklin and all of the other Founders is alive and well in the brave members of our military forces, the risk taking entrepreneurs and the good and decent people who volunteer for public service.
As we celebrate this Independence Day, I hope all of us take a moment to reflect on the men and women who made this country great - from the Founding Fathers to the veterans and active duty soldiers who continue to keep us safe and free. And remember that despite our flaws, we don’t need to make America great again, we are already, and always have been, a great people and great nation. Happy Independence Day.