The American Founding Fathers were a hodge-podge mixture of very real and very flawed human beings who just so happened to be among some of the most well-read and intellectual men of the time. Farmers with libraries. Lawyer philosophers. Intellectual landowners. Poet tradesmen and debating merchants. These were men read in history, in philosophy, in religious thought, in secular logic, and in the underpinnings of different forms of government from the beginning of man. They brought all of that intellect, diversity, and combined wisdom to the table; and after debates, fights, and compromise among differing beliefs and contradictory opinions, created the Declaration of Independence, and later, the Constitution--the most significant historical document ever created, a document that has brought about the greatest country in the world. Yes, a country with flaws and a blood-spattered history, but the greatest nonetheless. A country that has led to each and every freedom that we take for granted in numerous ways every single day.
Since then, millions have died defending the country that grew from that document and from the seeds of ideas planted by those very real, very human, yet very predestined men. Millions have suffered, sacrificed, and fed the earth with their blood and bodies. Our lives are built upon their graves. These soldiers fought for their families. Their children. Their country. For the freedom to speak, worship, and live as their consciences dictated. They fought for America, the America of dreams, the America that drew the “tired, the poor, the huddled masses who yearned to breathe free.”
This holiday we will hear the stump speeches, we will see the photo ops, we will be subject to the preening and parading of politicians and societal charlatans preaching the virtues of our nation and the bravery and courage of those who have gone before. They will give their speeches, and smile for the cameras, and then go back to slowly disassembling our nation and all that made it great, brick by precious brick, under the guise of democracy, feel-good legislation, and near-invisible flaxen cords of regulation and stifling bureaucracy.
There is a loud minority who fuels the erosion of America’s greatness with claims that America’s past is more blight than bright, that is has antiquated notions that must be picked off and cast aside as diseased and shameful. That it is an oppressor nation. A bigoted nation. A greedy nation that stomps on the poor and snatches opportunities from the weak. Too many in the media and popular culture seem desperate to convince everyone that is the America we live in.
Where do you stand? Is that what you believe America is? Is that the country that has led to your existence here today? Is that the America that has allowed those who defile it to be in the position where they can defile? Or, is America the country that has led to the greatest innovations in the history of the world, to a place where diverse ideas are boldly spoken and people may freely believe what they wish and do so without fear? Is it a country with a distinctly original founding and a history worth remembering? Is it a force of good in the world? Is it a beacon of light? Is it a place where anyone and everyone has the opportunity to succeed through the sweat of their brow and the callouses on their hands?
I am not meaning to over-glamorize our history; America is not perfect, her founding was not perfect, and her growth has not been perfect. However, America is great, is exceptional, and is a miraculous burst of light in the often dark history of civilization. And, at the core of often-imperfect implementation there are pure principles that have sustained us longer than most modern societies. Individuality, hard work, self-reliance, freedom of religion, integrity, dignity, moral living, free enterprise, the right to property, the right to live free, the right to prosper, unhindered. Do we understand these principles upon which our nation was founded? Or have too many generations of prosperity slowly unraveled our knowledge, practice, and reverence for them?
It is time to remember and rebuild those values. It is time we celebrate the good. Our founding deserves more. Our nation deserves more. Our soldiers and their families deserve more. Our children and their children deserve more. They deserve the America that is the shining light on the hill because of the ideals that inspired a foundling nation to take on the tyrant across the seas to declare itself free and independent.
America deserves each and every one of its citizens standing up and defending its beauty and the watch guards of its character. America deserves the best we have to offer, to each other and to her future.
Now is the time to stand and unite. Now is the time to fight for America’s legacy so that it will not become just that, a legend for us to tell our grandchildren about with longing in our hearts.
To our founding fathers, we thank you. Despite your flaws, your service is the reason we are here. To the watch guards of liberty who have given their lives throughout the generations, we honor you. America, we love you, and will stand and defend your glittering presence in the world.