To be an American is not to be white, or black, or Hispanic, or Native American, or of any particular race or creed. It is to be beholden to what our country represents, which in its purest essence, is liberty and freedom. And what is the great symbol of this freedom? Our Constitution, a document so revered by the people of this great country that it is our holiest artifact, beyond measure, and almost beyond reproach. When you celebrate your country, you celebrate the Constitution, as Sam Adams well knew:
The liberties of our country, the freedoms of our civil Constitution are worth defending at all hazards; it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors. They purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood. It will bring a mark of everlasting infamy on the present generation – enlightened as it is – if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of designing men.
What is the greatest danger to the Constitution? It is ourselves. When we forget that this country above all else is the great symbol of freedom and liberty throughout the world, when we forget that soldiers have died not only to protect our nation, but to protect this freedom, then we risk surrendering those freedoms to our own insecurities and fears. We must never forget the lesson that human history teaches us, which is that where some are strong and others are weak, the strong will always seek to oppress and dominate the weak to their own advantage.
The soldiers of the revolution fought the great weight of human history when they chose to fight the British, and they secured with their blood and their lives what has so far proven to be an enduring and lasting liberty. Our nation is great and powerful, and at least for the foreseeable future, the greatest danger to this liberty is our own fear and weakness. We must constantly be on guard against this fear, and against those who would use it to their advantage to gain power over us. By resisting them, by not being afraid to face the great uncertainties and great opportunities that our freedom presents to us, we honor the legacy of those who lived and died fighting for liberty for themselves and others.
This is the lesson worth remembering on this 4th of July.