Celebrating Independence Day

By Sen. Rick Girdler (R-Somerset), 15th district

Since the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, the Fourth of July has been observed as a day for Americans to stand in unity and in recognition of our nation’s founding. On this day, 245 years ago, exemplary visionaries dared to create a unique form of government. Our Founding Fathers established what President Ronald Reagan described as “the shining city on a hill,” because despite the imperfections of man that exist in our history, America became a beacon of hope for the world, and since the nation’s inception has stood steadfast in pursuit of the ideals of liberty and justice for all.

Throughout our past, America has faced trials and tribulations. We have continually confronted the evils domestically and abroad. Our nation produced the greatest generation, heroes who answered the call during World War II, storming the beaches and liberating those suffering abroad. We have even put men on the moon. America’s history is full of triumphs and tragedies. I believe the story of America is the greatest ever told, and our country’s founder’s grand experiment of a government of, by, and for the people is the greatest endeavor humankind has ever embarked on.

We forget the tremendous risk the signers of the Declaration of Independence took for freedom. The British captured five of the founders who signed it.  They were tortured before they died. The homes of twelve others were destroyed and burned down. Some lost children in the war to both death and capture. The death of nine of the fifty-six founders was the result of battle, some succumbing to wounds. The Founding Fathers consisted of jurists and lawyers (25), farmers (9), and merchants (11). They could have lived a life of ease and comfort but chose risk if all for the cause of freedom.

Our celebrations this Independence Day will feel especially important given the unprecedented experiences of the last year and a half. We have an opportunity to reflect on our country’s past and to take pride in its enduring principles. The Fourth of July marks the first time that all men were declared equal. Despite race or nationality, religion, or political affiliation — we are all born with God-given rights. The Declaration of Independence is still known as one of the most inspiring documents ever written. “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.” Beginning as America’s foundation for freedom, these powerful words are the blueprint of the United States of America.

Our nation—and our state—were founded on a simple principle: “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.” In the years leading up to the colonies declaring their independence from Great Britain, the creed was “Unite, or Die.” The importance of our unity has held true throughout our nation’s existence. We are a nation that celebrates our differences; we do not persecute them. These values must remain at heart as we navigate today’s political discourse.

Just as we remember the history of our Founding Fathers, our nation’s past, and the cherished principles of the American way of life, we must honor the brave men and women fighting at home and around the world to preserve them. Civil and international wars have been fought so that all people might live freely. Countless Americans have served on and off the battlefield so that we can enjoy the rights we often take for granted.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and all of the challenges it caused, I believe this Fourth of July will be most extraordinary. Perhaps more than any other time in our lives, we appreciate the liberties and opportunities America provides. I hope that together, as proud Kentuckians, we will continue to strive for unity and peace for our country and our people. We are one nation and one people, under God, and unitedly we will continue to make our Founding Fathers’ declaration that took place many years ago a reality today.

I wish you and your family a safe and happy Independence Day. God bless America.

Senator Rick Girdler (R-Somerset) represents the 15th District including Boyle, Lincoln, and Pulaski counties. Senator Girdler is the co-chairman of the Capital Projects and Bond Oversight Statutory Committee. He also serves as a member of the Interim Joint Committees on Banking and Insurance; Economic Development and Workforce Investment; and Tourism, Small Business, and Information Technology.