It is no secret that the founding principles of this nation are under constant attack these days.  Those of us who hold individual liberty, strong families, and personal freedom close to our hearts are clinging for dear life to a country we often feel like we don’t recognize anymore.

Rick McKee / Augusta Chronicle

Each year on the week of our nation’s Independence Day, I like to reflect on the reasons so many fought and died to found this country, and how their vision for America shaped it into the greatest nation in human history. The profound wisdom of the Founding Fathers always strikes me as particularly brilliant, and I’m especially concerned that we continue to stray much too far from that vision.

It was 237 years ago that Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence. The abuses charged against King George III made it quite clear that the 13 American colonies demanded to be entirely separated from the crown.  These patriotic rebels envisioned a country where people were able to live their lives as they pleased, free from the oppression of unfair taxes and a controlling government.

Jefferson made his intention clear, penning in the first paragraphs of the Declaration the basis for which our nation and its limited government would be built: “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.” It was this creed that Jefferson later described as “an expression of the American mind” that still serves as our nation’s central principle.

What this nation stands for are those inalienable rights laid forth in our founding documents and from the minds of the wise men that forged them – natural equality, individual liberty, and the insistence that only a representative and limited government could insure these promises.

I encourage you all to remember these core values this week, and the men who fought wars so that those values may be realized in a free American people.  We are forever indebted to their courage and sacrifice, and also to their brilliance.

The American ideal is one never before attempted.  Her people are free because her government is limited and made to consent to the governed.  We enjoy our freedoms today thanks to the incredible foresightedness of those who came before us.

It is our duty to ensure their great American experiment succeeds.