John F. Kennedy said it 51 years ago in his Inaugural Address:
And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe -- the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.I was reminded of that again this past weekend when we spent two days in the deep history of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. First at Valley Forge where the troops with General Washington endured a winter of great tribulation and then at the Independence Mall in historic downtown Philadelphia we were steeped in that great American Creation Story.
We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution.
Human rights, we said in 1776 are not something that a government hands down to its people. They are God-given and natural.
Democracy, in 1776 was an untried ideal. Would it work? Can it work? What an experiment. It remains an experiment that seems often to teeter on the edge of uncertainty. (That is for a different post, though.)
What I saw in Valley Forge and Philadelphia was the ongoing magnetic draw of this first democratic revolution. We heard languages from around the world. We saw tourists from Japan and Germany stand in awe of a cracked bell with the home of the Declaration of Independence visible behind it across the street.
I was speechless myself. I have never been to the historic sites of Philly before. It was a moment of awe and deep gratitude. From that spot we did "proclaim liberty" to more than just all the land. It went forth around the world.
May that always be the case.
[Note: A number of picture posts will be coming in a few weeks. I have been having fun taking photos. Watch for them so I can share my fun and experiences.]