For a post last year, I compiled the Independence Day messages from several Florida elected officials and politicians. Three things stood out. First, CFO Jeff Atwater and his staff obviously put a lot of thought into their Independence Day message and I salute them for that. Second, reading these messages, it’s safe to assume that most of Florida’s elected officials and politicians will never be confused with Daniel Webster or some other great legislative orator.
Third, and this is my sorta controversial thought about Independence Day, there is too much emphasis on thanking the military for today.
For example, Governor Rick Scott wrote, “… we give thanks to the men and women, both past and present, who have made the freedom and liberty we enjoy every day possible in our country. Today, I ask you to join me in honoring our servicemen and women. Because of their sacrifice, and the sacrifice of their families, we can enjoy this holiday, knowing that we are truly free.”
I’m sorry Governor, but that’s not what Independence Day is about. The emphasis is misplaced.
Today, if any day, is about great leaders and, dare I say, politicians, like Declaration of Independence authors Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman. This is about the signers of the Declaration of Independence, who pledged to each other their lives, fortunes and sacred honor while standing in defiance of tyranny.
Yes, the nation’s independence was secured on the battlefield, and for that, we should celebrate the generals and soldiers who fought for our freedom, but America’s Independence (capital “I”) was staked out by thought and reason. Today, we should be celebrating John Locke and George Mason, who strongly influenced the thinking that went into Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence.
Americans revere, if not worship, their military. And they should, if for no other reason than it is the only institution left whose members put this nation above themselves. Appropriately, the military is honored on several other days throughout the year, such as Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
Yes, the military should be remembered on Independence Day. The soldiers abroad should be in our thoughts. So long as we keep in mind that 236 years ago, it was not a rifle being fired which declared our independence, it was pen being put to parchment.
Today, let us not be afraid to honor our leaders and politicians.
As President John F. Kennedy remarked, “I look forward to a great future for America – a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose.”