Jackie Gingrich Cushman

President Ronald Reagan gave a clear picture of his version of a "city on a hill," in his farewell speech on Jan. 11, 1989. "A tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here."

Reagan understood that "as long as we remember our first principles and believe in ourselves, the future will always be ours."

In his view, common sense would prevail over intellectualism: To get producers to produce more, cut taxes; to create more international trade, knock down foreign walls of protectionism; to keep peace, be strong. "As government expands, liberty contracts," he said.

America is different from other countries because we start with "We the people." Rights flow from the people to the government; the government is designed to serve the people. God bestows rights to the people who loan their rights to the government. Reagan said what we should remember: "America is freedom -- freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It's fragile; it needs protection."

Every generation gets to determine its legacy. Will we mark time, will we let others rewrite history and destroy America's freedom that is unparalleled in the world, or will we, like generations before us, rise up and remind those who want to control us, who think that they are better than us that we the people are in control?

It has been 382 years since Winthrop's reference to a city upon a hill. When our lives are done, will we have just been marking time, or will we have made a difference? What does your city on a hill look like? Will we make the city stronger, freer; will we leave her in good hands?


Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.