It's the Declaration of Independence, Stupid

Image Credit: Shutterstock
Image Credit: Shutterstock

It was disheartening to have the President Obama fail, or was it refuse, to even mention the Declaration of Independence in his, as he audaciously likes to call them, “Your Weekly Address” for the Fourth of July weekend. Nope, President Obama could not bring himself to mention our Declaration of Independence in his 600 word, nearly four minute-long talk.

Don’t get me wrong. I am very happy Obama is making the effort to fill the South Lawn with hundreds of troops, veterans, and their families in order to honor them. And I’m also happy that Obama commended Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden for their support of the Joining Forces initiative. But couldn’t he have at least mentioned the Declaration of Independence?

Last year at least Obama made reference to the Declaration:

We remember as well that this is the day when, 239 years ago, our founding patriots declared our independence, proclaiming that all of us are created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights including the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

A couple of centuries later, we have made ourselves into a big, bold, dynamic, and diverse country.  We are of all races, we come from all places, we practice all faiths, and believe in all sorts of different ideas.  But our allegiance to this declaration – this idea – is the creed that binds us together.  It’s what, out of many, makes us one.

As he did in 2014:

It was 238 years ago that our founders came together in Philadelphia to launch our American experiment. There were farmers and businessmen, doctors and lawyers, ministers and a kite-flying scientist.

Those early patriots may have come from different backgrounds and different walks of life. But they were united by a belief in a simple truth — that we are all created equal; that we are all endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights; and that among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Over the years, that belief has sustained us through war and depression; peace and prosperity. It’s helped us build the strongest democracy, the greatest middle class, and the most powerful military the world has ever known. And today, there isn’t a nation on Earth that wouldn’t gladly trade places with the United States of America.

And 2013 Obama actually used the words Declaration of Independence:

On July 4th, 1776, a small band of patriots declared that we were a people created equal – free to think and worship and live as we please.  It was a declaration heard around the world – that we were no longer colonists, we were Americans, and our destiny would not be determined for us; it would be determined by us.

It was a bold and tremendously brave thing to do.  It was also nearly unthinkable.  At that time, kings and princes and emperors ruled the world.  But those patriots were certain that a better way was possible.  And to achieve it – to win their freedom – they were willing to lay it all on the line.  Their lives.  Their fortunes.  Their sacred honor.

They fought a revolution.  Few would have bet on our side to win.  But for the first of many times to come, America proved the doubters wrong.

[. . .]

And now we, the people, must make their task our own – to live up to the words of that Declaration of Independence, and secure liberty and opportunity for our own children, and for future generations [emphasis added].

In 2012, when Independence day fell mid week, there was not a Fourth of July themed Weekly Address. But in 2011, when like this year the holiday was on a Monday, Obama at least mentioned Independence Day:

On Monday, we celebrate Independence Day, the day we declared a new nation, based on revolutionary idea: that people ought to determine their own destiny; that freedom and self-governance weren’t gifts handed to us by kings or emperors, but the rights of every human being.

In 2010, when his, I mean Your Weekly Address, was presented on July 3, Obama mentioned that we declared our independence without talking about the document:

But what this weekend reminds us, more than any other, is that we are a nation that has always risen to the challenges before it. We are a nation that, 234 years ago, declared our independence from one of the greatest empires the world had ever known.

Even in 2009, in a Weekly Address entitled, “President Obama Celebrates Independence Day and the American Spirit,” Obama did not say Declaration of Independence.

We are called to remember how unlikely it was that our American experiment would succeed at all; that a small band of patriots would declare independence from a powerful empire; and that they would form, in the new world, what the old world had never known – a government of, by, and for the people.

[. . .]

And on this July 4th, we need to summon that spirit once more. We need to summon the same spirit that inhabited Independence Hall two hundred and thirty-three years ago today.

So there you have it. Only once out, of eight opportunities, did Obama actually use the words Declaration of Independence. Why does Obama disrespect one of the most revered historic documents? A document which contains what is said to be one of the best-known sentences in the English language:

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.

That sentence contains the most potent and consequential words in American history. A passage that came to represent a moral standard to which the United States should strive. The Declaration of Independence inspired many other similar documents in other countries. So why does Obama fail, or refuse, to give it its due?

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