Happy Fourth!

As the three or four of you who regularly take a look at this blog know, I try to sidestep the political conversations. There are a few days out of the year though, when politics should stand aside, and Americans should stop, reflect, and thank God for where we are, what we have, and how blessed we have been.

My mother sent something in e-mail this morning that contained a quote by Ronald Reagan. When Reagan was elected in 1980, I was 16 years old, and felt certain that I would not live to see the completion of my high school years. You see, I was convinced that Reagan would get us nuked back to the stone age. Reflecting on that time though, it seems like he was likely the best answer available at the time, and really did set the stage for a prosperous decade to come.

I went looking for Reagan quotes to see if I could confirm that the one she sent actually came from him. In looking for that answer, I found a few more, and thought I’d put ’em all here, on this day where we Americans celebrate the establishment of this land.

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.

Putting people first has always been America’s secret weapon. It’s the way we’ve kept the spirit of our revolutions alive—a spirit that drives us to dream and dare, and take great risks for a greater good.

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, windswept, 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.

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.

The ultimate determinate in the struggle now going on for the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills and ideas – a trial of spiritual resolve; the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish and the ideas to which we are dedicated.

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.

Enjoy your 4th of July, wherever you are. Cherish your family. Enjoy the fireworks, food, and friends. And revel in the freedom that we Americans celebrate today. Today is first day on the road to the next 4th of July — what freedoms will you enjoy between now and then?