Dear fellow Utahns:
This weekend, we had the opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the founding of this great country. More than 200 years ago, small groups of individuals were willing to step up and make a difference. Meeting under “Liberty Trees”, in private homes, taverns, churches and communities criss-crossing the colonies, they discussed at length the “state of affairs” playing out in the land they loved. The spirit of Liberty was ignited within their very souls and it became clear that they must act.
Those early patriots knew that they risked their “lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor” when they declared “these truths to be self-evident”. There were no guarantees that they would be successful – indeed, all odds were against them. Many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence – and their families – paid a very high price in their quest for freedom. Five signers were captured by the British. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. One lost his son serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 died during before the battle at Yorktown. Several lost their fortunes. All could have been executed as traitors. However, the sweetness of freedom from tyranny and oppression was worth the risk.
Many colonists were afraid to “take on” the greatest military power in the world. Some truly favored the crown, while others were content to sit on the sidelines and watch to see how things played out, declaring themselves to be loyal patriots only after the relatively small band of freedom fighters had won. Mark Twain spoke the truth when he said “In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.”
Those “Founding Fathers” were able to see clear differences between the tyrannical hand of England and the freedom they so fervently desired. I wonder if in our day we have that same clarity of vision. Thomas Paine said “The greatest tyrannies are always perpetrated in the name of the noblest causes.”Well-known author C.S.Lewis echoed those sentiments when he said: “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
Over the ensuing centuries, we have grown complacent as a nation, often taking for granted our God-given rights – and in some cases, giving them away for the promise of just a little bit more security – a promise that can never be fulfilled.
Happily, the light of liberty has not yet been extinguished. In fact, it is being re-kindled and spreading like wildfire across this nation. Right here in Utah we have seen rallies and protests, record numbers of caucus attendees, record numbers of voters in the primary and more involvement in the political process than we have seen in many years. I have been lucky enough to meet and work with real patriots, people in whom the flame of liberty and freedom burns brightly, people who know as Thomas Jefferson did that “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance”. Our state – and our nation – need you to be vigilant, to be engaged, to make a difference.
Nathan Hale, facing the firing squad in 1776, said: “I regret that I have only one life to give to my country.” You and I have only one life to live for our country. Let us take nothing for granted. Let us live that life creatively and well. Let us work to ensure that America’s ideals are strengthened. Let us be firm in our commitment to keep freedom’s flame burning bright. Let us leave a legacy that we can be proud of and that our children can look back on with gratitude and appreciation.
Thank you for being part of the process. I look forward to continuing to fight the fight to keep America the “shining city on a hill”.