Friday, July 02, 2004
Conceived in Liberty
This Sunday will mark the 228th anniversary of a remarkable event in human history. It was on July 4th, 1776 that the work of 56 men, much of it done in the heat of a blistering Philadelphia summer, changed the course of a fledgling nation, and indeed the world.
They brought forth, as Lincoln would later say, a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. They risked everything, and pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
We will celebrate our nation's birthday. It is right that we should do so. We will celebrate with barbecues, parades, and fireworks. Bands will play, speeches will be given, and salutes will echo across the landscape of America. I look forward to this day every year.
I am also reminded that we are a nation at war, as we have been for nearly three years. To borrow again from Lincoln, we are engaged in a war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.
So, when you're watching the fireworks, the parade, or simply the chicken, ribs, burgers and hotdogs on the grill, remember those of your country men and women who find themselves in harm's way defending the principles of this great nation. They find themselves in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East - in tents on the sandy dunes of Iraq and on ships on every ocean of the earth.
They do what they do of their own free will and choice, and the do it for you.
Most people don't know this, but the National Anthem, penned by Francis Scott Key as he watched the British shell Ft. McHenry, actually poses a question at the end of the first verse:
O say doth that Star Spangled Banner yet wave, o'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?
Every 4th of July that passes while Old Glory waves from sea to shining sea answers that question in the affirmative, and also proves Lincoln's assertion that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.
Here endeth the lesson.