I hope all Americans take time to celebrate the birth of our great nation.
Our nation began as an idea. That idea was penned on a document that began “When in the course of human events” and detailed reasons — both philosophical and practical– why we should separate ourselves from the Crown and Great Britain. We would do well to reread them. Thankfully, a clear and concise explanation of those reasons is laid out in the first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence.
The signers of the Declaration built our nation on certain truths; all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among those these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
America, unlike the European and other foreign homelands of those who settled here, was to be a nation of equals. Most importantly, all men had rights, that were given to them — not by the government — but by the Creator. As such it is not possible for the government to give or take away rights. Government exists only to secure those rights. And, the signers say, governments only, derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.
It was a powerful statement. Our rights are not man-made but God-given. Government exists to secure those rights and to serve its citizens. Not the other way around.
Sadly, history has moved us far from what the signers intended. Still the ideal burns deeply in the hearts of Americans. We celebrate the Declaration of Independence but also pledge our fidelity to the fundamentally American idea that government is the servant – not the master – of the governed.
May we never forget.
Happy Birthday, America!