On July 5, 1926, President Calvin Coolidge delivered this speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the United States of America.
What is fascinating about this speech is that it was less than 75 years after the dreaded Civil War. And yet, even today, it is one of great clarity as to why and how this Great Land came into being.
But it is the last paragraph that hits me like an 18-wheeler:
No other theory is adequate to explain or comprehend the Declaration of Independence. It is the product of the spiritual insight of the people. We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed.
So-called "Silent Cal" could give this speech this Independence Day, 2010 and it would be 110% correct. But the time is worse as we are sinking into pagan materialism. And President Coolidge was spot-on with giving props to the fact that the Founders were driven by a spiritual and moral leadership.
No, it was not perfect. In fact, the issue of slavery threatened the whole concept of a United States of America from the beginning. And not even a Civil War stopped the residual effects of such an odious stain on our Great Land. But it was the willingness of so many to strain towards the concept of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:
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 battle is still ongoing today, and peacefully, thank God.
The Declaration of Independence is one of the most important documents is the history of man. It can not be forgotten or its meaning perverted.
President Calvin Coolidge got it. And many Americans are getting it. And I think President Coolidge would be proud.
HT: Jonah Goldberg on The Corner at www.corner.nationalreview.com