Withstanding the test of time

Published 4:06 pm Friday, July 6, 2018

The few days before July 4th are filled with references to the words of our founders. I appreciate the opportunity to remember what these men were thinking, writing, and saying. Those gatherings of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, and many others had to have been some of the most inspiring times in our nation’s history.

I said it Sunday. I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. I believe in its infallibility.

I also believe our founders were inspired by God. I don’t believe they were infallible, but their words and writings have withstood the test of time.

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For instance, the second paragraph of our Declaration of Independence reads, “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.” Almost 250 years old, those few words sound just as magnificent as ever.

According to John Adams, the matter of writing the Declaration of Independence was given to Thomas Jefferson for some interesting reasons and one reason that I found sort of humorous.

Adams told Jefferson that he should be the one to write this important document and, at first, Jefferson told him “I won’t, unless you can give me a reason.”

John Adams gave him three reasons. The first was because Jefferson was a Virginian and Adams felt that a Virginian should be at the head of this task. The second and third reasons were more interesting.

Adams told Jefferson that he needed to write it because, “I am obnoxious and unpopular.” That’s the humorous reason and the third reason was practical. “You can write ten times better than I can.”

The Virginian replied, “I will do as well as I can.” I would say Thomas Jefferson did a magnificent job!

Another patriot that has always held a special place in my heart was Patrick Henry. When speaking of liberty, the part of one of his speeches that most of us had to memorize in school still resonates.

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

These days that precede our Independence Day celebration are about the only time we hear these patriotic quotes. I think one of the reasons I appreciate all of these people and their words is that we all had to memorize them. Do our current-day students have to learn such American historical quotes as we used to?

That portion of the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the United States Constitution, the Patrick Henry speech, all of those were important enough back then to memorize. The work of our founders, their words and ideas, are the foundation of the freedom we celebrate tomorrow. It’s the solid rock upon which our nation was built.

It’s my fault that I don’t know how much of those words and ideas are being taught these days. If it was important enough then, why wouldn’t it be just as important today?

There is an old saying that you don’t miss something until it is gone. The freedom that we enjoy is not to be taken for granted and the words that form its foundation are not to be forgotten either. The words have withstood the test of time. Our nation will stand the test of time only if we remember those words and what they mean.