LETTER: Founding principles

Ret. Col. Pat Proctor

To the editor:

This week, 244 years ago, our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, enshrining the principle that all people “are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator” with the “unalienable rights” to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

This Sunday at church, I overheard a member of my church family lamenting that we were witnessing the death throws of American democracy. One can be forgiven for thinking this, given the news on television and in our newspapers. Protesters and rioters are pulling down the statues of our founders, trying to destroy our nation’s history – a history of struggle toward every greater equality and freedom for all people, everywhere – and replace it with a narrative of systemic racism and oppression. And our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have been mightily tested in the last few months, with governors shutting down small businesses and preventing Americans from providing for their families.

But the principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence are greater than any of these threats. These principles inspired a nation to take up arms in a revolution to throw off the chains of imperial tyranny. In World War II, they inspired 12 million Americans to don uniforms, take up arms and travel to the far corners of the Earth to make other people free. And these principles are what makes America the “shining city on a hill,” a beacon of freedom for those around the world who yearn to be free.

I wish all my neighbors a great Independence Day, a day of celebration with your friends and family. But I hope that you will also take a moment to reflect on the profound wisdom of our founders and join me in recommitting yourself to defending their ideals to ensure that our children and our grandchildren grow up in the same land of freedom and opportunity that we, as Americans, were privileged to inherit.