On the Fourth of July, we celebrate independence — the heart of Americanism. Our shared responsibility to safeguard our independence serves as a unifying force.
Our form of government has withstood the tests of 242 years because of our commitment to protecting the freedoms that our inspired founders affirmed in the Declaration of Independence, the adoption of which we celebrate this holiday: “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–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed …”
On July 4, 1821, while serving as U.S. Secretary of State prior to serving as our nation’s sixth President, John Quincy Adams spoke of the Declaration’s longevity: “So long as this planet shall be inhabited by human beings, so long as man shall be of social nature, so long as government shall be necessary to the great moral purposes of society, and so long as it shall be abused to the purposes of oppression, so long shall this declaration hold out to the sovereign and to the subject the extent and the boundaries of their respective rights and duties; founded in the laws of nature and of nature’s God. Five and forty years have passed away since this Declaration was issued by our fathers; and here are we, fellow-citizens, assembled in the full enjoyment of its fruits, . . .”
We continue to benefit from its rights and duties now 197 years since John Quincy Adams asserted his expectation. As Americans, we have the freedom to choose where and how to live our lives. We can decide what interests we pursue and how we spend our time. We shape our circles of influence and families. We set the course for our communities and nation. Our freedoms make America an example to the world and an aspiration of many.
While there is always disagreement on the best way to get to where were are going as a nation, our individual interests guide the prevailing outcome. And, we each have a voice in the outcome that as a nation has ultimately been to safeguard our freedoms and maintain our republic.
Our Founding Fathers’ recognition of the cost of supporting and defending our freedoms is apparent in the closing line of the Declaration of Independence: “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.” Millions of brave men and women continue to uphold this commitment as they defend our freedoms at home and abroad. Joining these lauded Americans, are the many young Idahoans who have recently graduated from high school and have left Idaho to prepare to serve our nation at our nation’s military academies.
As they set out on a new chapter of their lives and we think about our nation’s founding and all Americans who have fought for our American freedoms, we must remain committed to doing our parts individually and together to uphold these liberties that make our nation worthy of the price continually paid to maintain them. Being an American on the Fourth of July is truly wonderful as we celebrate our independence and recognize our shared responsibility to ensure that our self-government endures for generations of Americans and continues as a strong and steady example to the world.
Mike Crapo represents Idaho’s First Congressional District in the U.S. Senate. He can be reached at crapo.senate.gov.