Memories of independence past
July 4, 2011
On the morning of July 5, another celebration of Independence Day is history. Memories of fireworks displays are quickly snuffed by the onslaught of pressures and responsibilities in our busy lives. Jobs, school, raising kids … the list goes on. We have so many important pursuits, which dictate so much of our time. It’s easy to forget about the profound condition of American liberty.
In the Declaration of Independence, the founders of our nation asserted that all people are created equal and endowed by God with “unalienable Rights.” These include “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Government exists to protect these rights, deriving powers solely from the consent of the governed. This is the promise inherent in that profound document signed on July 4, 1776. It took seven years of war against a world power to win the chance to fulfill the pledge.
When delegates from the newly free alliance of states convened in Philadelphia in 1787, they established a government to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” Their extraordinary accomplishment was the Constitution of the United States, the framework for a government with the power to guarantee the rights decreed in the Declaration of Independence.
Our government is subject to the limitations of a republic that reflects the will of the people. The Constitution provides for adequate but limited government authority, implemented through a system of separated powers and the principle of federalism. As such, the God-given freedom of Americans has been unencumbered to create the greatest country in human history.
Like countless other nations, our past is marred by the abomination of slavery. But no country has worked harder to eradicate racial injustice and establish equality of rights. The Civil War, the 13th Amendment, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were all part of the United States’ relentless campaign to purge racism and discrimination from the institutions of our society. Regardless of race, color, or creed, every citizen is free to pursue his or her dream.
Fulfilling a dream takes hard work. Fortunately, the work ethic holds special promise in America. Our free market creates more wealth and opportunities than any other economic system. More than 80 percent of the millionaires in America are self-made. Limits on government interference allow capitalism to stimulate creativity, innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit. Our economy, which thrives on competition, consistently produces an abundance of food, medicine, and energy. We have excellent highways, clean drinking water and reliable electricity. And our advanced society has given rise to great achievements in engineering and science that range from space flight to DNA replication.
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Despite our focus on earthly endeavors, America is firmly founded in religion. Our nation was based on Judeo-Christian beliefs and values, yet our government is forbidden to sponsor a church or a religion. On the contrary, the Constitution guarantees the religious freedom of all citizens.
The founders went beyond religious tolerance and specifically recognized that all citizens have the right to freely practice their religion. As Americans, we are free to voice religious beliefs in public, without fear of government retaliation.
The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are the greatest statements of human liberty in world history. Americans are blessed to live in a country that affords citizens with the opportunity to exercise their God-given free will. But as President Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” It’s up to all of us to shore up the spirit of Independence Day in our souls and instill that passion in our children. God bless America!
– James D. Kellogg of New Castle is a professional engineer, the author of the novel “E-Force” and the founder of LiberTEAWatch.com. Contact him at email@example.com