You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. – Mathew 5:14
Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.
Since the idea that became our Nation, 241 years ago, we have done our best to remain worthy of the ideals of our Founders. At times we have been led by capable individuals, steering the ship of state away from foundering on the rocks. At other times, our leaders have been found wanting.
It is always a good idea to reflect on history and where we’ve come from, in order to best discern where we are going. The words of the founders and leaders of the past are not simply dusty words written by dead men. They should be more like the signs and markers we refer to on a map.
So on this Independence Day Anniversary, let’s take a look at some important thoughts, and let the words guide us anew:
“Can the liberties of a nation be sure when we remove their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people, that these liberties are a gift from God?” Thomas Jefferson
“If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for War” – George Washington
“Any people that would give up liberty for a little temporary safety deserves neither liberty nor safety.”– Benjamin Franklin
“Posterity, you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that ever I took half the pains to preserve it.”– John Adams
“Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.” – Benjamin Franklin
“It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government.” – Thomas Paine
“Hold on, my friends, to the Constitution and to the Republic for which it stands. Miracles do not cluster, and what has happened once in 6000 years, may not happen again. Hold on to the Constitution, for if the American Constitution should fail, there will be anarchy throughout the world.” – Daniel Webster
“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” – Patrick Henry
Think on these statements from some of our Founding Fathers and Earliest Leaders. Recognize what they were setting out to do: To build a Nation where Freedom was the highest idea. Now ask yourself: How are we doing, some 241 years later? Are we still on course? I think President Reagan said it best, as he left office in 1989 after two terms as President of the United States:
I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind, it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind swept, God blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace – a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors, and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.
That’s how I saw it, and see it still. How Stands the City?
And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure and happier than it was eight years ago. But more than that: after 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm.
And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the Pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.
Yes, we are Still that “Shining City on the Hill.” We have our difficulties and have made mistakes. But 241 years later, I feel that we are still that lamp shining in the darkness. Still the place where men can be free, and pursue their God-given happiness.
God Bless America!