Mark Obenshain: The triumph of liberty over oppression

obenshain2Independence Day is more than the backyard barbecues and fireworks that will mark the 239th celebration of that fateful July 4th, 1776.  In fact, its more than just a celebration of the birth of our nation, but rather a commemoration of the triumph of liberty over oppression thanks to the selfless acts of bravery by courageous men and women who sought a new form of government that would allow individuals to flourish and prosper in a free society.

Calvin Coolidge, addressing the nation in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, eloquently put it like this in 1926:

“There is something beyond the establishment of a new nation, great as that event would be, in the Declaration of Independence which has ever since caused it to be regarded as one of the great charters that not only was to liberate America but was everywhere to ennoble humanity.

It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles, that July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history. Great ideas do not burst upon the world unannounced. They are reached by a gradual development over a length of time usually proportionate to their importance.

This is especially true of the principles laid down in the Declaration of Independence. Three very definite propositions were set out in its preamble regarding the nature of mankind and therefore of government. These were the doctrine that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed.”

At the time, these “new principles” were revolutionary ideas that forever transformed the relationship between government and the governed.  Democratic governance, in the 18th century, was the exception rather than the rule, but the newly formed United States of America became the standard bearer for the notions of freedom, justice, and equal opportunity when those 56 men gathered in Philadelphia in the ultimate act of defiance to the British Crown.

As we celebrate this great holiday with our friends and family, let us renew our commitment to uphold the unified vision of the Founding Fathers, a vision that declared, “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.”

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