“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.”
These words of the Declaration of Independence were written down along with a list of 27 grievances against the British crown, declaring the 13 American colonies as states of one sovereign nation. The 56 men who signed the document knew they were committing acts of high treason and would be brutally executed were they to lose the Revolutionary War.
On July 4, we celebrate the signing of the Declaration in 1776 as the official birthday of America, though the war for independence would be fought through 1781, with the Treaty of Paris making the end official two years later.
The U.S. has grown to become the world’s preeminent superpower and largest economy, but it was already the greatest nation anyone had ever designed on day one. While other countries were formed based on nationality, America was the first one founded on a creed. Never before had a nation so well combined the ideals of individual liberty and proper representative government as codified into two of the most important historical legal documents ever written.
It’s become popular to point out how America has failed to live up to its ideals, to self-flagellate over every past sin, as if the U.S. invented slavery, war or corruption. Some go as far as to say those failures prove America was broken from the start, founded on the sands of prejudice, ignoring the progress the country has made over the last 200 plus years.
Admittedly, the argument holds more water when it comes to the current, overall state of national politics. Both sides of the aisle would agree that politicians are corrupt, only theirs aren’t as bad as the others. It’s easy to become disgusted and exhausted with the current political powers that be, but gauging that along with the value of the country as a whole is a step too far.
America is its people; its Judeo-Christian values; its commitment to freedom.
“I believe in the United States of America, as a government of the people, by the people, for the people,” wrote William Tyler Page in “The American’s Creed.” “A perfect union … established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes. I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.”
Like the great American author Mark Twain said, patriotism is supporting your country all the time and the government only when it deserves it.
Be a patriot today, because if you’re an American, then July 4 is your birthday too.
Our View On the Issue is an opinion of The Reporter’s editorial board.