It is worth remembering, as we conclude the Fourth of July weekend, that if hard times are ahead, harder times yet are behind us.
We are a resilient and resourceful people, guided in part by a sense of destiny as we came out of tyranny and into liberty, carrying as it were a torch of freedom to light the world.
The Revolutionary War period, in particular, was as trying an era as could ever be imagined, and yet with ingenuity, courage and cunning the young nation met all its challenges.
It is remarkable that a group of men pledged their very existence to the proposition that “all men are created equal.”
There are few propositions that have caused as much turmoil as that one, and yet without its genesis in 1776, it is hard to imagine what the world would be like today — indeed hard to imagine any world at all today.
Where would we be today without the road map provided by Jefferson, Adams, Washington and the rest of the Founding Fathers? Think for instance of that very Declaration of Independence that we celebrate every Fourth of July, and which ended with these words:
“… 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.”
A powerful statement of dedication to a cause, and one which any generation might be called upon to make. Certainly, the World War II generation renewed that vow, but today it is hard to imagine Americans united in such common purpose.
Yet is the war against terror more demanding than the war against tyranny? Is the war against high gas prices more daunting than the war against high tea prices? Is the war to preserve the dignity of man any different from one generation to the next?
We face great challenges indeed, but we are at least fortified with a history of accomplishment and wisdom. We are capable of meeting any challenge, defeating any foe, turning back any threat. But only as long as we remain committed to pledge “our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor” for the cause of freedom.
As soon as we lose that resolve, we are subjects of the oppressive crown again, and not sovereigns in our own right. The generation of Americans that forgets the eternal endowment of self-evident truths emblazoned in the Declaration of Independence and turns its back on the history of sacrifice of our forefathers — that generation will have much to answer for, and little to declare.
Daily Inter Lake editor’s note: The following column was written in 2008 and published just after the Fourth of July. I decided to run it again this year just before the Fourth of July because its message of resistance to tyranny seems more relevant than ever. –F.M.
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