Senate Week In Review

July 11, 2014

Sometimes when you get discouraged you just need a good dose of Freedom. We all get caught up in the rush of our day-to-day lives, our responsibilities and the demands on our time and attention, so this week I’d like to step back from the news of Illinois to focus our thoughts on a great gift that each of us enjoy, like no where else in the world, but that we often take for granted: Freedom and Liberty.

July 4, 1776. Happy 238th Birthday to the United States of America. Our nation is the most uniquely-inspired system of self-governance in the history of the world. We were uniquely-inspired and uniquely-created. The Founding Fathers were clear in their writings and speech, acknowledging God/Creator. It’s a legacy that’s been handed down from generation to generation of people and presidents.

The Declaration of Independence (Adopted by Congress on July 4, 1776): “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 rights and privileges which are also spelled out in the U.S. Constitution were not created during the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and by its 39 participants. These leaders clearly told us in their writings they were not the authors of Freedom and Liberty. Instead, they proclaimed each citizen was endowed with these rights by the “Creator” and without embarrassment or shame they acknowledged, “…a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.”

Our nation was founded on Freedom and Liberty for all; for everyone, equality that mirrors Scripture: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (from Genesis)

We are all equal in the eyes of God and this point of view is also reflected in our Founding Documents, which set forth equality under law and that the new government would derive its “just powers from the consent of the governed.” (from the Declaration of Independence)

Never before in the history of the human race or since has any government been founded on the consent of the governed; its people. The United States of America is unique in that regard. It makes those who govern and those who are governed equal partners.

Yes, this nation wasn’t perfect. It did allow slavery to exist, but our nation was and still is perfectible, meaning it and we are capable of improvement. Our Founding Documents also laid the groundwork and argument for the end of slavery and true Freedom and Liberty for all.

Boston Globe newspaper columnist Jeff Jacoby wrote about this irrefutable truth in a July 4, 2010 column titled: “‘All men are created equal’ is not hypocrisy but vision”

‘“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”’ The Founders chose those words not to describe the nation in which they lived, but a better, more just nation; the nation America could become. Their words became the American creed, the taproot of the American dream — as worthy of celebrating today as they were in 1776.

We’ve had many great leaders. So many there’s not room in this brief column to include them all but the memorable words of these admired Presidents seem appropriate:

George Washington’s Farewell Address (September 1796): “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them…Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation deserts the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (November, 1863) dedicating a portion of the Gettysburg Battlefield as a cemetery for the fallen: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — 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.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s D-Day prayer (June, 1944):“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith…They will need Thy blessings…They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home…And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade…With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy…Thy will be done, Almighty God.”

Ronald Reagan speaking at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, the crossing between the Freedom of the West and the Tyranny of dictatorship of the East (June, 1987): “Twenty-four years ago, President John F. Kennedy visited Berlin, speaking to the people of this city and the world at the City Hall. Well, since then two other presidents have come, each in his turn, to Berlin. And today I, myself, make my second visit to your city…Standing before the Brandenburg Gate; every man is a German, separated from his fellow men. Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar…General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Our nation was founded on a higher moral code than personal whims and wants. Courage, Self-sacrifice, Determination, Dedication and Conviction make up the American Spirit. It is still required of us today, the same as it was 238 years ago.

Sometimes when you get discouraged you just need a good dose of Freedom. Happy Fourth of July. God bless the United States of America.