[July 4, 2020] I’m a patriot. I’m loyal to our Nation. And I make no apologies for it. Period. On this 4th of July, I plan to salute America as I recognize the birth date of the country. To be a real patriot, you have to also know about the Declaration of Independence itself.
The Declaration of Independence is not a speech. The Declaration is a document to war. It is a vital piece of practical business, not a piece of rhetoric. It begins with preliminary passages about the rights of our citizens. In the heart of the document is a very express and detailed specification concerning the actual public business of the day; the business of 1776.
Liberty does not consist of mere general declarations of peoples’ rights. It includes the translation of those declarations into definitive action. Lawyers call such a document a bill of particulars. For those of us today who dedicate ourselves to the symbolic value of this 1776 Declaration, it remains essential that we understand both those times and how it applies to us today in 2020. Those 244 years have changed us, but the desire for liberty and freedom remains constant.
Patriotism consists of some very practical things. The way to be patriotic in America is not only to love America but to love the duty that lies nearest to our hand and know that in performing it, we are also serving our country. Being patriotic also means to learn the facts of our national life and to face them with candor.
Of late, I hear those who insist that everything is going wrong, while many say everything is going right. I wonder what those who are crying out that things are wrong are trying to do. Are they trying to serve the country, or are they trying to serve something smaller than the country? Are they trying to put hope into the hearts of citizens who work and toil every day, or are they trying to plant discouragement and despair? If they love America and anything is wrong, it is their business to put their hand with ours to the task of setting it right. It is not patriotic to devise measures against one another; it is patriotic to devise measures for one another.
The Declaration of Independence is not merely a historical document. Since 1776, our independence has been so astonishing that we are one of the greatest nations in the world. But, it is one thing to be independent, and it’s another thing to know what to do with your independence.
The world is a complex and challenging place. Yet no one ought to be foolish enough to think they can understand it all. And, therefore, I am glad that there are some simple things in the world. One of those simple things is principle. Honesty is a perfectly simple thing. Keeping your promises, telling the truth, and bearing difficult burdens are also simple things.
Those gentlemen who signed their names to the Declaration of Independence were not expecting a holiday the next day. They attached their signatures, knowing that if they failed, it was inevitable that every one of them would hang. They were committing treason in the interest of liberty. All the rest of the world was against and cynically smiled at the audacious undertaking.
My dream, like those who signed the Declaration, is that the world knows more about America and that they will turn to America for moral inspirations that lie at the basis of all freedom. The world should never fear America unless engaged in some enterprise, which is inconsistent with the rights of humanity. I dream of the day when the American flag is the flag not only of America but of humanity.