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America's Birthday: Celebrating the spirit of America

Signed on July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence declared the independence of the thirteen colonies from British rule. It states that all men are created equal and have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To support that, its signers, “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence,” made a mutual pledge to each other of their lives, fortunes and “sacred honor.” These words were not just empty promises; they were the foundation of America then, and just as necessary for America’s survival today.


The defenders of the Alamo were 189 men who fought to the death against Santa Anna’s army, which numbered in the thousands. They knew the odds were against them, but they fought anyway, inspired by their dedication to purpose and willingness to sacrifice their lives for a noble cause.


Colonel Travis, the leader of the Alamo defenders, gave his men a choice: to escape, surrender, or continue to fight with the certainty of death. Despite the favorable chances of escape, everyone except for one remained in the fight, determined to see it through. They realized they couldn’t win. Despite the price, they fought on because they believed it was proper and necessary to fight the army of Santa Anna at that time, in that place. They were willing to sacrifice their lives for that cause and did so with courage and honor.


The spirit of “Remember the Alamo” represents that which is courageous, honorable and worthy of commitment in the hearts of individuals and nations. That same spirit was in the hearts of the signers of the Declaration of Independence when they pledged their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” on behalf of a new nation. It has been present in America, from Valley Forge to Mount Suribachi, Vietnam, Baghdad, Afghanistan and countless other places in between.


The Alamo defenders were not the only ones who have shown this spirit throughout America’s history. From the soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War to the firefighters who rushed into the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, Americans have always been willing to commit and sacrifice their all for the sake of their country and their fellow citizens.


America’s foundation is not just its institutions, laws, or government. It’s its people and the spirit that animates and drives them. A spirit of courage, honor, duty and commitment as necessary to America today as it was when our Forefathers, “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence,” made a mutual pledge to each other of their lives, fortunes, and “sacred honor” as they put their signatures on the Declaration of Independence.


Without that spirit, America would not have been born and will not long endure. As we celebrate America’s birthday, let us remember that spirit, unite and pledge to each other “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor,” just as the signers of the Declaration of Independence did over two hundred years ago.


Happy Birthday, America! Happy Birthday!

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