As America's 232nd birthday approaches, the stakes have never been higher.
Friday marks the 232nd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence - one of the most historically significant documents ever penned. What seem like innocuous phrases today were earth-shattering at the time, including perhaps the most famous phrase from that remarkable document:
"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."
Such sweeping statements had never been uttered publicly by man against their king. Ignoring precedence in Philadelphia that sweltering summer, Thomas Jefferson penned the treatise for the future of all democracies. A future in which America would be the shining city on the hill for the entire world to admire, envy and emulate.
This achievement was not easily attained. As a country, we have faced and will continue to face significant challenges. America has been tested from outside, as well as inside, our borders. We have had to stand strong against these foreign and domestic aggressors. We have had to overcome our own obstacles while helping other nations strive for freedom. And through it all, we have remained one union, striving to achieve the democratic ideals of America’s forefathers.
As the 21st century begins, America faces some of its greatest challenges yet. This Friday, as they do every day, our brave men and women are fighting around the world to ensure our freedom and to expose people to democracy and freedoms that only existed in their wildest dreams. Freedoms they dared not publicly speak of for fear of retribution; freedoms most Americans take for granted. On America’s Day of Independence it is important to remember that for many around the world, freedom is a gift that needs to be cradled while still in its infancy. Our country has a duty to help them care and nurture that gift through such difficult transitional periods.