July 4, 2007
The American Spirit 1776-2007
July 4, 1776, the day in which not only a nation was born, but also a "spirit." The American spirit is alive and well all these 231 years later. It is a spirit that has carried us to the ends of the earth to promote freedom, leaving scattered seeds of greatness in the graves of fallen warriors in many far reaching countries; it has taken us to breakthroughs in both science and medicine, curing diseases thought to be incurable and solving many difficult problems which have long plagued humanity; it has taken us to the moon and back, defying the limits of the practical and the doubts of the always present naysayer's.
And, along the way, this spirit has found voice in a lone representative pressing towards a greater America than assumed possible by the many. Abraham Lincoln spoke of an "unfinished work" that the living must advance so that the sacrifices of those who died for a cause would not have done so in vain. Franklin D. Roosevelt challenged a struggling people with the words "the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself." John F. Kennedy spoke in soaring terms in which we "shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty."
Who can forget this more recent declaration: "...if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity...if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! ...open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Ronald Reagan said this at the Berlin Wall in Germany, but he may as well have been at Bunker Hill or Manassas or Iwo Jima or Baghdad.
While blood, sweat and tears from American men and women who do God's work throughout this world ("go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own" - Kennedy), is shed and bottled for posterity, it is the words of the shared American spirit that lives on. From the Declaration of Independence to the declaration of George W. Bush in September 2001 ("I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon."), these words live in the atmosphere more than they live on parchment or in granite.
This July 4 marks a nation at war to protect its people and its shores. It marks a nation once again in a domestic struggle - this time a struggle not against famine or drought, the "fear" FDR addressed, but against a threatened famine of freedom of speech and a drought of an adherence to the rule of law that dominate the headlines day after day.
The entire world should celebrate this historic day with us, for all the world has leaned on us in times of trouble and times of need. As Lincoln said, we are the "last best hope of earth."