For one who was born and grew up in the small towns of the Midwest there is a special kind of nostalgia about the Fourth of July. I remember it as a day almost as long-anticipated as Christmas... Somewhere in our growing up we began to be aware of the meaning of days and with that awareness came the birth of patriotism. July Fourth is the birthday of our nation. I believed as a boy and believe even more today that it is the birthday of the greatest nation on earth...
What manner of men were gathered in Philadelphia in July 1776? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists 11 were merchants and tradesmen and nine were farmers. They were soft-spoken men of means and education; they were not an unwashed rabble. They had achieved security but valued freedom more. Their stories have not been told nearly enough.
John Hart was driven from the side of his desperately ill wife. For more than a year he lived in the forest and in caves before he returned to find his wife dead his children vanished his property destroyed. He died of exhaustion and a broken heart.
Carter Braxton of Virginia lost all his ships sold his home to pay his debts and died in rags... Thomas Nelson personally urged Washington to fire on his home and destroy it when it became the headquarters for General Cornwallis. Nelson died bankrupt.
But they sired a nation that grew from sea to shining sea... In recent years however Ive come to think of that day as more than just the birthday of a nation. It also commemorates the only true philosophical revolution in all history.
Oh there have been revolutions before and since ours. But those revolutions simply exchanged one set of rules for another. Ours was a revolution that changed the very concept of government.
Let the Fourth of July always be a reminder that here in this land for the first time it was decided that man is born with certain God-given rights; that government is only a convenience created and managed by the people with no powers of its own except those voluntarily granted to it by the people.
We sometimes forget that great truth and we never should.President Reagans words are especially poignant this Fourth of July and should encourage us all in the days and weeks ahead. Let us also remember our nations vision statement found in the second paragraph of our Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights Governments are instituted among Men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...Let us rededicate ourselves to the vision of our Founding Fathers so that our nation may experience a new birth of freedom.