WASHINGTON, D.C. -- One of the most poignant moments to occur in the U.S.-led global War on Terror occurred when National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice passed a note to President George W. Bush during the recent NATO conference in Turkey. Her message informed him that Iraq was once again a sovereign nation. He smiled and instinctively wrote, "Let freedom reign," and passed it back. Those three words say a lot about the man and the country he leads.
Two hundred and twenty eight years ago this week, a committee of five patriots, headed by a farmer from Virginia, prepared the final draft of a radical document. On the morning of July 4, they presented the results of their work to the body that had set them to the task: the Second Continental Congress. The larger group made just 86 changes in Thomas Jefferson's "fair draft" and then, pledging "to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor," all 56 members signed their names to this Declaration of Independence.
In so doing, they created something that was then unique on the planet earth: a country based on the concepts of individual liberty, private property and democratic government. Since then, the people of this nation have taken great risks to offer others the hope of that same freedom.
America's commitment to human liberty has required extraordinary sacrifice from the people of this land. Yet, the lives, blood and treasure expended in this quest have made it possible for hundreds of millions of oppressed and subjugated people around the globe to live in freedom from despotism.
During the last century, Americans rescued Europe from German domination in World War I. Twenty-three years later, we again went to war -- and more than 400,000 Americans died saving the world from the murderous rampages of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Hideki Tojo. And for the next 45 years during the Cold War, America sent its sons and daughters into harm's way to stem the tide of totalitarian communism. Now, we're confronted by yet another form of tyranny and terror: radical Islamic Jihadism.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.