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COLUMN: Celebrating 240 Years of American Independence

July 4, 2016
Weekly Column and Op-Ed

During the Fourth of July holiday and as the world’s focus on the United Kingdom’s vote for “Brexit” to leave the European Union, we as Americans are reminded of our own decision to declare independence from Great Britain 240 years ago. The lesson we can take is that no matter the risk and the naysayers, a free people will not always choose security; because they long for freedom. While the impact remains to be seen, what is certain is that it takes bravery and spirit to act on the desire for freedom. The path of freedom is not always the most certain, but our own history is filled with the stories of patriotic men and women who risked everything they had for the cause of liberty.

In the United States, we are blessed to live in a representative republic where the government is limited by our Constitution. We are free because we possess rights that we recognize as our gifts from God, not from other men or the government. Americans are governed by our consent and with respect for our rights.

In the words of Ronald Reagan’s farewell speech at the end of his presidency: “Ours was the first revolution in the history of mankind that truly reversed the course of government, and with three little words: ‘We the people.’ ‘We the people’ tell the government what to do, it doesn’t tell us.’ ‘We the people’ are the driver, the government is the car. And ‘We the People’ decide where it should go, and by what route, and how fast.”

Through the lens of history, removed from the events of the Revolution, it can be easy to forget the audacity of our revolution, and our forefathers’ decision to stake their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor on the notion that all men are created equal. Our thirteen colonies took on the world’s most powerful empire to realize American independence. Our nation still stands as a testament to the power of a free people who fight for our rights.

In his same farewell speech, Reagan said that, “I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts.”

On the Fourth of July, we celebrate the freedoms and values that define us as Americans and bring us together. If we adhere to our founding values, then America will stand strong. We must safeguard the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that belong to us and the generations after us. On this Independence Day, we remember that self-government and protection of our rights demands limited government.