Brad Wenstrup, Opinion Contributor Posted at 4:06 p.m. ET July 4, 2020 | Updated at 4:06 p.m. ET July 4, 2020
The sea of 660 American flags just below the celestial restaurant represents the number of veterans who kill themselves each month, said Gold Star sister Nikki Glutz. (Photo: Photos by Liz Dufour / The Enquirer)
The country we now call the United States of America was once an act of daring imagination.
When our founding fathers put ink on parchment and wrote the words, “We take these truths for granted,” there was no plan to follow. When the second continental congress ratified the final text of this declaration of independence on July 4, 1776, it was launching into unknown territory. They were creating a vision for a country that did not yet exist. As Ronald Reagan later said, “This idea that the government is beholden to the people, that they have no other source of power than the sovereign people, is still the most recent and the most unique idea of all time. history of the relationship of man to man. “
Over the years, these words on parchment, our Declaration of Independence, have been integrated into a nation wrought by the fires of revolution and civil war, and stretching from coast to coast through continent. There were growing pains and imperfections to fix, but that same bold imagination responsible for our birth continued to shape our path to the future.
He redefined the possibilities of a representative democracy, proving that people have the right to the dignity of self-determination and the ability to lead their own governance. It was the American imagination that created this model of modern democracy that countries around the world have adopted, learned and used as a model for their own governments.
It stimulated progress, innovation and invention. It’s the American imagination that made the world hold its breath as Neil Armstrong’s voice crackled on the air from a place no human had crossed before: “It’s a small step for a man , a giant leap for humanity. “
It is also what drives us towards more complete realizations of the ideals described by our founders. It was the ability to imagine a better and fairer future that drove the voice of Martin Luther King, Jr. to ring across the National Mall with four words that would define movement and resonate across generations: “I have a dream. “
Dr. King went on to say, “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note which every American should inherit. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as white men, would be guaranteed the “inalienable rights” of “life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. We refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there is not enough money in the great opportunity coffers of this nation. And so, we came to cash this check, a check that will give us, upon request, the riches of freedom and the security of justice. “
This is what our founders gave us that day: a bold vision for something that did not yet exist. An invitation to believe, to dream and to fight for its realization.
Think about it: the world in which they lived at the time was not yet a reflection of the words on this parchment. Yet these early Americans were able to look beyond what was and envision what could be. With this great act of imagination, they set the tone for what America should look like, what freedom should look like, what justice and equality should look like.
There are times in our history when we have failed these ideals, but these ideals have never disappointed us. Sometimes we got it wrong. With each generation that passes, we must strive to live our ideals and our virtues more fully and thus allow everyone to live more freely. America is not exceptional because it is perfect. America is exceptional because the greatness of the ideas on which it was founded transcends any human effort to realize them. They must survive and survive each of us. They are both a war cry and an invitation to each generation: come, imagine a fairer, more civil, more peaceful and freer world. Let us work to make it happen.
Today, as we commemorate the birth of our country, we are grateful to Americans of all colors, races and beliefs throughout our history who have sacrificed and spoken, fought and bled for this nation. But now, the torch has passed to us. As Abraham Lincoln said, “It is for us living people to decide that these dead will not be in vain that this nation, under God, will have a new birth of freedom, and that the government of the people , by the people, for the people will not perish from the earth. “We have this moment in history. It is our responsibility to harness every ounce of energy, optimism and imagination to live up to the values that were described on this piece of parchment ago so many years.
It won’t be easy. There is always a cost. This will require sacrifices, compromises and a great commitment. We will have to fill the chasms that divide us and remember what unites us. We must continue in the footsteps of each generation that preceded us, who fought to let the flame of freedom light a little more. Our nation is worth it.
God bless the United States of America.
U.S. Representative Brad Wenstrup, R-Columbia Tusculum, is a U.S. Army Reserve physician and colonel, in service since 1998.
Brad Wenstrup, R-Columbia Tusculum (Photo: Fourni / House.gov)
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