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Little Rock, Ark. — Two hundred forty years ago, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail and predicted that for centuries to come, July the 4th would “be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival,” which would include “illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.”
Centuries later, as Adams predicted, we continue to commemorate our nation’s independence by lighting up the sky in celebration of our liberty and freedom.
The freedom that we enjoy as a nation was, and continues to be, hard-fought and hard-won. In fact, within the first few years of America’s conception, many of the founding fathers feared that our newborn country was already on the cusp of collapse.
At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, George Washington participated in vigorous debate about how to structure the government of our fledgling nation. Benjamin Franklin, the Pennsylvania delegate and elder statesman at the convention, later noted that Washington sat in a chair with the image of a sun carved into its wooden back. Franklin remarked that he was unsure whether that sun was rising on a new, free nation, or setting on idealistic hopes for a nation conceived in liberty. As thirty-nine delegates signed the U.S. Constitution, however, Franklin was confident that the sun was, indeed, rising rather than setting.
On July 4th, it is important to look back and honor the men who charted our path as an independent nation two centuries ago. This year, many are hearkening back to the beginning of our country by attending the mega-hit show on Broadway, “Hamilton.” “Hamilton” has sparked worldwide interest in American revolutionary history. The hip-hop musical tells the story of America’s first Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton, and the pivotal role he played in the early years of our nation.
Alexander Hamilton certainly lived the sort of eventful life that was made for the stage. He served in multiple wars, helped draft the Constitution, served as the nation’s first Treasury Secretary, founded the New York Post, and wrote over two-thirds of the renowned Federalist Papers, a series of essays that defended the yet-to-be-approved Constitution.
Alexander Hamilton had his hands in nearly every aspect of our nation’s founding. He devoted his life to creating the country’s solid foundation and securing the liberties that we know today in the United States of America.
It is my sincere hope that we never lose sight of how priceless those liberties truly are. It was Alexander Hamilton, himself, who said on December 13, 1790, “However weak our country may be, I hope we shall never sacrifice our liberties.” The founders of our nation understood the outstanding courage required to establish and maintain liberty and justice for all, and they also predicted that if courage failed and fear prevailed, these liberties would disappear as well.
Fourth of July should not only be a celebration of our independence, but also a reminder of the courage, resolve, and sacrifice required to secure it.
As we enjoy the holiday on Monday, keep the words of President Eisenhower in mind. He said, “Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed — else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.”