The United States of America is an enduring democracy, born 230 years ago with the Declaration of Independence which we celebrate today.
To understand the history and trajectory of America requires us to look beyond the headlines of today, and recall certain documents that have laid out the country’s higher purposes, and its calling — often but not always fulfilled — to serve as a shining example to the world. The country’s true power lies in the ideals which it embodies, which are now shared by citizens throughout the world.
The U.S. Declaration of Independence, drawing on European ideas of the Enlghtenment, particularly in France, was a harbinger of the spread of freedom, which has now reached many countries in the world.
Key documents to read in remembrance of this July 4, 2016, include the fowwing:
1. The U.S. Declaration of Indendence (1776)
2. The U.S. Constitution (1989) and the Bill of Rights (1991) containing the first ten amendments.
3. The Gettysburg Address, by Abraham Lincoln (1863)
4. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms Speech (1941)
5. John F. Kennedy’s Speech at American University (1963), following the Cuban Missile Crisis
The river of freedom and democracy has deepened and grown broader over 230 years. It now represents the aspirations and political goals of citizens in every country, guided by the principles laid down in the United Nations Charter (1945), the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (1949), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), and numerous international human rights treaties to which almost all countries are parties.
We can now say that America’s struggle for freedom, begun 230 years ago, has become one struggle, humanity’s struggle for freedom, a rising chorus with upraised voices from every land.
The Trenchant Observer