Reflecting upon our liberties, freedoms

Published 3:17 pm Friday, July 3, 2009

It is Independence Day, July 4, 2009, just 233 years from the historic signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, Pa., a daring and dangerous act from our Founding Fathers, men representing 13 original colonial colonies comprising the Continental Congress.

Today is a day of celebration of that event, of family outings, picnics, fireworks, flag displays, visitations to historic sites, and hopefully a day of reflection upon our constitutionally guaranteed liberties and freedoms.

Our country stands today unique in its roll promoting freedom throughout the world. For as we have witnessed only a few days past, the nation of Iran raising its ugly head, suppressing dissidents, killing and beating those seeking a redress of grievances against their oppressive government.

The world remains too indulgent against petty tyrants, who function as boils upon the earth, denying their countrymen their basic rights of liberty, justice and freedom from oppression.

This is the day we reaffirm the historic human dynamics of the Declaration of Independence, published in newspapers, or recited aloud by persons dressed in period costume.

This is a day we remember one of its most famous sentences ever published, one of the dearest recognizable statements in the English language, and one of the most potent stream of words assembled within American History—

“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.”

This is the day we rededicate ourselves to promote freedom throughout the world, the greatest threat to terrorism, tyrants and oppressors.

Great documents seem to come from great conflicts, such as the Declaration of Independence, declaring independence from the British Empire, composed as a protest against unjust laws promulgated upon the colonies by King George III.

Years later on the battlefield at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln gave us another historic battle cry for freedom in his famous address dedicating the battlefield cemetery.

Lincoln believed the Declaration of Independence to be the foundation of his political philosophy, a statement of his political principles. Those principles are deeply rooted in his Gettysburg Address.

On this Independence Day, you are hereby authorized to play the part of President Lincoln speaking at the Soldier’s National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pa. It is Nov. 19, 1863, and you have two minutes to deliver your remarks. You as Lincoln will be telling those assembled, in part, why this American Civil War must be engaged. There is a large crowd assembled. Absent is a modern day public address system, so you must speak up.

Begin:

Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition, that all men are created equal.

Now, we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure.

We are here on a great battlefield of that war.

We have come to dedicate a portion of it as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.

It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow this ground.

The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.

The world will little note nor long remember, what we say here, but can never forget what they did here.

It is for the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they have, thus far, so nobly carried on.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.