240 years of independence worth celebrating

July 1, 2016

By Sen. Mike Crapo

As we join with family and friends to commemorate this Fourth of July, we celebrate 240 years of independence. The honoring of this cherished American holiday is a reminder that our country was founded on the principles of freedom, individuality and self-government.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that, in July 1776, an estimated 2.5 million people lived in our newly-independent nation. The committee of five important Founding Fathers, who penned the Declaration of Independence, laid the bedrock of freedom that has persevered over the years and is now enjoyed by more than 323 million current Americans. Our founding document also serves as an inspiration and marker for people around the world struggling for their own independence.

Our form of government has withstood challenges because our inspired founders constructed a durable U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, based on the principles of freedom and a limited federal government. Americans have long cherished and protected these freedoms from attack.

With the signing of the Declaration, the 56 signers, who ranged in age from 26 to 70 put their lives at risk, declaring independence from the British crown. Reflecting that brave stance, many men and women have fought since that time to preserve our freedoms for ourselves and future generations. We all owe them a debt of gratitude.

As inheritors of a tremendous legacy, we can honor the sacrifices for our freedoms by never giving up on safeguarding our liberties. We celebrate our independence by rejecting tyranny in all its forms. This means achieving thoughtful solutions instead of reactionary policies that corrode our constitutional rights. This means never losing sight of the exceptionalism of American ideals and working diligently to set our nation on a sound path, rooted in self-governance.

Former President Ronald Reagan’s words from 33 years ago continue to ring true today: “The American dream lives, not only in the hearts and minds of our own countrymen but in the hearts and minds of millions of the world’s people in both free and oppressed societies who look to us for leadership. As long as that dream lives, as long as we continue to defend it, America has a future, and all mankind has reason to hope.”

We are a nation of thinkers, innovators, problem solvers, fighters and leaders. The grit at the heart of our nation’s founding endures. May the year ahead be filled with the courage and fortitude celebrated this holiday and needed to carry us through the challenges ahead.