Independence Day thoughts

Independence Day is coming. Is it a time for you to anticipate a long weekend or to put some thought into what we are as a nation and how we got here?

Our Founders through great debate and compromise set forth a 17-page blueprint called the Constitution that established a democratic republic (emphasis on republic). In so doing they created the most unique, most innovative, and most prosperous nation on earth.

Our Founders made great sacrifices to give us this great country. The Declaration of Independence states this clearly: “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.”

Those simple yet powerful words changed the world.

Of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, all had more to lose than to gain by signing it. John Hancock, who was very wealthy, already had a price on his head. Five signers were captured and brutally treated by English soldiers. Nine died during the Revolutionary War. Several lost wives, sons, or entire families. One lost all 13 of his children. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet none of them defected or went back on their word.

All of our most memorable leaders since then have had a deep and abiding sense of freedom. The great early leaders such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Ben Franklin were totally devoted to the concept of liberty. Later leaders of this caliber could include Abraham Lincoln, who stood against popular opinion during the most divisive time in American history, and Warren G. Harding, who led the country through the depression of 1920 (what, you haven’t heard of that one?) with a non-intervention approach that created the shortest depression in our history.

No one can forget the leadership of Truman and Eisenhower through and post World War II, John F. Kennedy through the Cold War, and most memorable to me, Ronald Reagan with his economic and defense policies that brought about permanent change to Russia and brought down the Berlin Wall.

One of the things I admired most about Reagan was that he always had a deep faith in the resilience and ability of the American people. One of my favorite Reagan quotes sums up that faith; “You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done. “

Did you ever wonder why we celebrate July 4 with fireworks? It is to remind us that we obtained and kept our freedom through battle. One only has to listen to our national anthem to determine that. John F. Kennedy summed it up with this quote; “The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission.” I wonder, is that still true today?

We finally have an administration that is willing to strike back at his detractors rather than curl up in defense. Our president is accomplishing much despite detractors from both parties who are entrenched in the Washington machine. He is attempting to close our borders and make America safer. He rolled back many of his predecessor’s executive orders that expanded privacy invasions, global warming restrictions, disability rolls, and government.

However, Washington is still rife with partisan bickering, placing personal agendas over the best interests of the country, and personal financial gain over principle. The populace is more focused on shopping and Hollywood than history and freedom.

It is time for the real Americans to stand up for themselves. We have a president on our side. Hold other elected officials accountable. When was the last time you wrote any of them? There is no place for complacency while our nation is recovering from being “fundamentally transformed” by Obama.

So this Independence Day please think about how we became the great nation we are. Do not forget those who are in the military, who best understand independence.

Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I say, “Not on my watch.” Make America great again.

Tom Riggins can be reached at


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