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.
~ Declaration of Independence, closing paragraph
On July 4, 1776, our founding fathers signed what I believe is one of the greatest documents ever authored by humanity. Today we celebrate the signing of our Declaration of Independence – the document that marks the birth of the great nation we call the United States of America.
By this Declaration and our subsequent victory in the Revolutionary War, we gained the status of a truly independent nation. With that status comes rights and responsibilities shared by each of us whose citizenship resides with these United States of America.
Our greatest responsibility is to protect and defend this great nation; to preserve the freedoms that so many have fought and died to win and preserve. The colonists sought freedom from oppression and freedom from the tyranny of an overreaching government. These men fought and died so that individuals were free to pursue their God-given rights, among those being life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I often wonder what our founding fathers would think about today’s America. Would they be proud? Or would they be troubled? Are we fulfilling our obligation to defend the freedoms that so many have fought and died to win and preserve over the years? If they could speak to us today, what would they say to us?
I believe that the greatest threat to any organization, be it a club, a company or a country, comes from within. When a group loses focus on it’s commonalities – it’s mutual goals and objectives – it begins to break apart. President Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand…” I believe he hit the nail on the head.
Today’s immediacy of communication via cable television and the Internet is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because, treated responsibly, these media can facilitate a level of communication and discourse among the American people that was never before possible. It’s a curse because it facilitates an unprecedented level of personal attacks and abuse. Many issues are before us as a nation about which most of us hold passionate and often opposing views. To support our positions and further the causes we hold dear, we take to the Internet. Sadly, our discourse often quickly degenerates into nothing more than personal attacks and cheap name-calling. The issues get lost in the mudslinging, and we contribute to the breaking apart of our nation. If we, the people of this great land, participate in this lowest level of discourse, we are guilty of ripping apart the fabric of this nation so carefully sewn together on July 4, 1776. And at some point, America will no longer be free.
Make no mistake; people will disagree and we are only human. The fact that we disagree is not a problem; the manner in which we often address those with whom we disagree is very troubling. On this Independence Day, will you join me in a promise? Will you join me in promising to discuss the issues, and only the issues? We will disagree, sometimes passionately, and that’s OK. We are free to disagree and passionately discuss the issues of our disagreements! But as we do so, let us always bear at the front of our minds the sacrifices made by so many who came before us. Let us not disrespect those sacrifices by tearing each other down; rather, let us honor their sacrifices by standing shoulder-to-shoulder for the common good of this great land, even as we disagree.
Happy Independence Day!
And I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died and gave that right to me.
And I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land. God bless the USA!
~ Lee Greenwood