What a remarkable time to be an American.
This is not to say that other generations have not been called upon to defend the legacy of the blessings of liberty and self-governance our forefathers passed on to us; rather, it is our generation, at this very time, that will determine – once again – the destiny of our nation. Of that, I am sure.
As I travel across this country, I often emphasize in my remarks that now is the time for all of us to choose the harder right decision over the easier path. By that I mean that if we are to fulfill the legacy of our Founding Fathers, we must be willing to be courageous and accountable and demand accountability from our government’s leaders. It takes inner courage to hold oneself accountable and a fearlessness to get into the fight when the easier thing to do is leave it to others.
Our forefathers did not relent when challenged by the powerful British Empire. They were willing to give up their lives and all they owned for what they knew would be seen by the Crown as a treasonous act. They were among the most courageous people in human history, and they held each other, and themselves, accountable for their actions. Just look at the Declaration of Independence. Each of the 56 men who put their names on this precious document had basically signed their own warrant for arrest, and maybe worse.
In clear defiance of the ruling class and knowing that they would be held to account, they broke with the Crown, proclaiming that the birth of a new nation based on individual rights and limited government was now a stark reality.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.
And yet, less than a month after the Declaration of Independence was signed, Samuel Adams urged his comrades, “Courage, then, my countrymen, our contest is not only whether we ourselves shall be free, but whether there shall be left to mankind an asylum on earth for civil and religious liberty.” Later that same year, Benjamin Franklin wrote a friend, “I hope our people will keep up their courage. I have not doubt of their finally succeeding by the blessing of GOD, nor have I any doubt that so good a cause will fail of that blessing.”
They had great faith – and hoped – that future generations would see it as their duty to protect and fight for freedom as they had and have the courage to hold government accountable. Without the demonstration of both, Americans would stand to lose everything to tyranny.
We all honor the courage of our Founding Fathers as we should. But today, our generation needs new acts of courage. We are at a tipping point in the history of America. It is our turn. Destiny calls us to act with courage and accountability to pass the torch of freedom to our children and grandchildren or lose it all. There is no other way. The destiny of America will be decided once again, not along the path you walked upon yesterday, but which path you choose to walk on tomorrow.
And I am telling you I’m inspired by what I’m seeing in my travels through our great country. People are rising to the occasion and fighting back. They’re demanding accountability and are making themselves accountable. Pastors are speaking up and standing taller than ever before at the pulpit. I’m seeing more and more veterans run for elected office and taking on other leadership positions to take accountability for themselves and for this country. You don’t stop serving just because you are out of uniform. And if you’ve been in uniform, you know when courage and accountability are needed; and when you do, you stand up, step up, speak up and lead.
It’s not just veterans and pastors speaking out and stepping forward. Men and women from all walks of life are showing the courage of our forefathers – business leaders, teachers, football coaches, small business owners, and parents. Our Founders showed us the way to choose the harder right decision over the easier path. They laid the foundation with our founding documents – the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. These documents are not mere words, they are the fulfillment of the promises we make to each other as American citizens. And, through our founder’s faith in God and each other, they passed on to future generations the lessons and yes, the promises of their lifetime that to the end, freedom and liberty were worth the fight. Indeed, what a remarkable time to be alive and, even better, what a remarkable time to be an American.