The Courage Behind American Independence
“We hold these truths to be selfevident, 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. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
On July 4, 1776, 56 delegates from the 13 colonies, meeting in Philadelphia, put their signatures to the Declaration of Independence, an act of great faith and tremendous courage. They even solidified their commitment to this momentous act, saying: “And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”
Our new nation was born that day — a nation with the unique perspective that liberty, freedom and justice were inherent rights belonging to the people and not handed out by the government to the favored few.
For more than a dozen years, average citizens— farmers, shopkeepers, tradesmen - fought a war in their own backyards against the mightiest military in the world. The commander of the army, George Washington, knew the hardships they would face: “We began a contest for liberty ill provided with the means for the war, relying on our patriotism to supply the deficiency.” But despite the great obstacles, patriotism proved to be a great equalizer against the bettertrained and better- equipped British army.
Each patriot knew the price for failure would be high. Gen. Washington warned his troops: “...you are free men, fighting for the blessings of Liberty — slavery will be your portion, and that of your posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves like men.” This admonition applied not only to our soldiers but to the signers of the Declaration of Independence and to those citizens who supported their cause as well, for they were labeled traitors by the loyalists to the King.
It took true courage and faith to stand for independence. The principles of personal liberty and individual freedom were almost unheard-of in eighteenth century governmental systems. These American patriots were attempting to do what no country had done before. Would this “experiment” succeed?
Again, Gen. Washington understood how high the stakes were: “The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered... deeply, ...finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”
But, despite the odds, they succeeded and that spirit of Liberty still lives today.
As we enjoy the Fourth of July, whether at a hometown parade, a family picnic or taking a welldeserved long holiday weekend, let us pause to remember the valiant spirit of those long-ago heroes. Our nation was founded on the shoulders of giants.
And that tradition of bravery continues today. Men and women from every corner of this great land and from every walk of life still volunteer to defend the freedoms we claimed as our right in 1776. They leave their families, their friends and their homes to face the enemies of liberty. Like the brave patriots of the American Revolution, our men and women in uniform today have a special spirit. And they know their cause is just.
Liberty is not for the faint of heart. God bless America.
Kay Bailey Hutchison is the senior U.S. Senator from Texas