Independence is a celebration of liberty

There have been hundreds of political revolutions across the span of recorded history. Why was the American Revolution so important? Because our revolution, our independence, and consequently the celebration of Independence Day deal with the liberty of the American people.

The Fourth of July is a celebration of protection. Governments have essentially existed since the beginning of recorded history. Sometimes they have been a hindrance to human development and oppressive, but more often government, as a whole, has been beneficial. Alone and unsupported by civil laws, citizens have myriad problems to deal with-namely, protecting themselves from invasion from both from those near and abroad. I believe government was established to protect citizens from such invasion. Invasion leads to a reduction of liberty. The first governments were likely created for the protection and promotion of their citizens’ liberty.

It is a celebration of reformation. Ancient governments grew as people realized they could be used as tools to solve their problems for them. The poor and disadvantaged could use government for welfare and support, the rich could hide behind its protective cloak as corporate entities, and several others had pet projects the government helped achieve. Unfortunately, government grew too large and became overextended beyond the true and original intent of civil government: the preservation and protection of liberty. The late 18th-century governments of the world were too obtrusive, invasive and more concerned with national strength than protecting their citizens’ civil liberties.

The holiday is a celebration of religious freedom. Contrary to the belief of some, the colonists did not loathe their former homelands in Europe. Rather, it was a sad affair when they realized they had to leave their protective cloak. But they left because they primarily desired religious liberty. Of course, others left for adventure and for others, America was a debtors’ prison, but most left for religious liberty. English Protestants and French Huguenots all left primarily for the same reason: religious liberty. When the patriots rebelled, they fought for a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.” In essence, they desired a government that fostered liberty and did not hinder it. This, then, was the goal of revolution: not wealth, nor even autonomy, but simply put, liberty. In the immortal words of Patrick Henry, the American patriot, “Give me liberty or give me death!” Henry did not cry, “Wealth or death!” or “Autonomy or death!”

It is this liberty, this great inalienable right, that we celebrate on the Fourth of July. Our government was not the first republic in the world, but it was the first viable government established from the bottom up-that is to say, from ordinary people like you and me and not from a ruling family. The United States was also the first nation that held a constitution at its foundation. This is why our government and our Independence Day are so important. They epitomize the reason why governments were established: for the protection of the liberty of its citizens.Independence Day is a celebration of our liberation from a decent and efficient, yet oppressive and obtrusive, government in old England. When we see fireworks blast, let us recall the shots of the revolution that rang with the indelible cry of liberty. And let us remember the true and original end of government: the preservation of liberty.

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