As we pause to observe Independence Day, I thought it might be helpful to reflect on the remarks that President Bush made on July 4, 2001 at Independence Historic National Park. I’ve reproduced some of his comments for you below. I hope it helps you remember why we observe the day.
The entire address can be found in the Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States on the Internet at: www.gpo.gov. Have a wonderful and memorable Fourth!
“Today we celebrate American independence, in the place of America’s birth, close to a symbol of American liberty. As millions know, to see the Liberty Bell is a moving experience. In America we set aside certain places and treasures like this to protect them from the passing of the years. We grant them special care to mark a moment in time. Here in Philadelphia, these markers are all around us, reminders of our history.
This is a dynamic and modern city. Yet, if the founders themselves were here, they would know the place. Benjamin Franklin and his wife could still find their way from here to the corner where they first saw each other, at Market and 4th. John Adams could make his way to City Tavern and show us the spot where he first shook the hand of George Washington. Thomas Jefferson would still find waiting for him the room where he drafted the Declaration of Independence.
When Jefferson sat down to write, he was trying, he said, to place before mankind “the common sense of the subject.” The common sense of the subject was that we should be free. And though great evils would linger, the world would never be the same after July 4, 1776. A wonderful country was born, and a revolutionary idea sent forth to all mankind: Freedom, not by the good graces of government, but as the birthright of every individual. Equality, not as a theory of philosophers, but by the design of our Creator. Natural rights, not for the few, not even for a fortunate many, but for all people in all places, in all times.
The world still echoes with the ideals of America’s Declaration. Our ideals have been accepted in many countries, and bitterly opposed by tyrants. They are the mighty rock on which we have built our nation. They are the hope of all who are oppressed. They are the standard to which we hold others, and the standard by which we measure ourselves.
Our greatest achievements have come when we have lived up to these ideals. Our greatest tragedies have come when we have failed to uphold them.
On this 4th of July, 2001, a great anniversary of our nation’s birth, we remember the ideals of America and the things of the spirit that sustain them.
The Liberty Bell has been mostly silent for two centuries. And during the Revolution, it was unseen, hidden under the floorboards of a church in Allentown. Yet, even in silence, it has always borne one message, cast for the ages with the words of the Old Testament: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof.” In this place of history, we honor the first generation of Americans who followed those words. And we give thanks to the God who watched over our country then, and who watches to this very day.
Thank you, all. And may God bless America.”
Ken Kendall is President and Founder of Kendall Financial LLC in Flower Mound.