Continuing on with the patriotic theme of this anniversary week of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, we will go back to a previous anniversary of this auspicious occasion: a speech given by president Calvin Coolidge. Delivered in Philadelphia for the 150th anniversary, the Vermonter posited that “a century and a half measured in comparison with the length of human experience is but a short time, yet measured in the life of governments and nations it ranks as a very respectable period. Certainly enough time has elapsed to demonstrate with a great deal of thoroughness the value of our institutions and their dependability as rules for the regulation of human conduct and the advancement of civilization.” We have now nearly had another one hundred years to vet those institutions and principles and, today, they seem no less good than they did then.
The 30th president went on to reflect that “[a]mid all the clash of conflicting interests, amid all the welter of partisan politics, every American can turn for solace and consolation to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States with the assurance and confidence that those two great charters of freedom and justice remain firm and unshaken.” Great words in which one could take pride, although some may question whether they still ring as true today – nearly 90 years later – as they did in 1926. Lately it can seem like the din of those clashing partisan politics can drown out everything else, as basic rights guaranteed by those “charters of freedom and justice” are disregarded in the name of emotion, false “facts,” and agendas. Those resolute, “firm and unshaken” principles are often treated as living, evolving things – perhaps mere suggestions – or even considered deleterious by some.
Be that as it may, these documents, and those like them, are our founding documents. They are the charter that codifies what America is all about and what makes it the greatest nation. Let’s celebrate that this Fourth of July.
President Calvin Coolidge’s full speech from Philadelphia, PA – July 5, 1926: Continue reading