Happy Independence Day
By: Sen. Bill Heath (R-Bremen)
This July 4, 2013, Americans will join together to celebrate Independence Day. While many Americans associate Independence Day with fireworks celebrations, barbeque picnics and ceremonial parades, we must never forget the true meaning behind this national holiday and the high cost of the freedom we enjoy today.
On this day, American flags can be seen flying freely in the wind along storefronts and homes across the nation. Entire communities will gather around town squares wearing patriotic apparel that represents America’s rich legacy of freedom. However, none of this would be possible without the selflessness and sacrifice of our founding fathers.
Over 200 years ago, the 56 delegates of the Continental Congress proclaimed our independence from Great Britain through the signing of the Declaration of Independence. This timeless document is still recited today in school civics classes and heralded by scholars as one of the most lauded works of literature ever written as it pertains to the formation of a new republic and self-governance.
The Declaration of Independence was a revolutionary concept at a time when government was not run by the people, but through the centralized power of world governments. The founding fathers believed it was their moral obligation to develop an autonomous form of government where “all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
As with life, sometimes the best decisions aren’t the easiest ones. The founding fathers faced uncharted territory and an uncertain future. War was already raging across the colonies and young patriots realized that defending this new Republic could cost them everything, including their lives. Many young men, fathers, brothers, nephews and uncles lost their lives on battlefields throughout the thirteen original colonies to secure our nation’s freedom. Because of their sacrifice, we are heirs of patriots who cast off tyranny so that our children could have a better life. But has freedom endured the test of time, or is it beginning to become a memory of the past?
In recent years, our federal government has made decisions that continue to strip away the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens one by one. Forcing the purchase of healthcare, imposing large tax burdens on job-creating companies and interpreting the Constitution in ways other than its explicit definition is a far cry from the beloved principle of limited government our forefathers fought for so many years ago.
Similar to the founding fathers, I believe that government exists to provide a framework upon which people may govern their own lives. But sadly, the independent pioneering spirit that made this country great is being replaced with a high level of government dependency. This is hardly what the founding fathers envisioned when establishing the foundational precepts of our country. Washington, D.C. used to be a place where statesmen came to serve, not take advantage of the populace through overbearing tax burdens, insurmountable debt and policies that erode individual liberties.
It is also interesting to note the correlation between the current administration’s avoidance of free market principles and our nation’s steadily increasing debt. If the federal government is going to continue forcing costly and overreaching mandates on its citizens, how can we truly be free? America is now at a crossroads in its relatively young history. Will we choose a path of progressivism and socialistic policies or work to restore American independence? This decision is up to us.
If we continue down this path, could Independence Day someday become “Dependence Day” in America? This may seem like an impossible notion, but it is eerily turning into a reality as government continues to chip away at our constitutional freedoms.
At this critical juncture, we must teach our children the merits of a free society. There is a reason why men and women have journeyed to our shores for centuries in search of both religious and political freedom. Maybe you have ancestors who fled persecution or oppressive governments in hopes of living the American Dream. If so, perhaps you’re one of the millions of Americans who believes that self-governance is the key to true independence.
Our nation’s founding documents – the Constitution, Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence – must be taken into consideration when examining our path forward. Securing prosperity for our nation was never easy, but now that we have freedom, will we be able to maintain it? This is a question that we must all ask ourselves. In order to preserve liberty, we must re-ignite a sense of personal responsibility for the future of our country. It is not the government’s job to take care of us, it is ours.
If it has been a few years since you’ve read the Declaration of Independence (www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html), I encourage you to read it with your family and friends this Independence Day. It is these very words that sparked one of the greatest revolutions in history and established a government that is truly “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
This Independence Day, we must also take a moment to remember the countless men and women who have risked their lives to defend the freedoms that we hold dear. These men and women put their lives on the line every day to promote the virtues of a constitutional Republic around the world. Whether you serve overseas in the military or teach our school children, you can play an important role in carrying freedom to the next generation. Remember, the choice is up to us.
From my family to yours, I would like to wish you a safe and blessed Independence Day.