On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress ratified the Declaration of Independence. That day marked the beginning of a new world where people would not be governed by monarchs and despots but by themselves. The Declaration expressed the great ideals of freedom and equality: “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.”
Our constant dedication to those ideals invoked by Jefferson in the Declaration are the quintessential story of America.
They were the same ideals invoked by Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg in 1863. With the country torn in two, he reminded people of those ideals and resolved that “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
They were the same ideals invoked by Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington D.C. in 1963. When he saw our country failing to realize those ideals, he reminded us they’re the core of who we are as a society and that we must strive to realize them for every American: “When the architects of our Great Republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.”
Freedom, equality, and self-government are among the greatest gifts the world has been given- they are the gift we celebrate today and every July 4th, and the gift we must never stop striving to preserve!
Happy Independence Day!