On the Fourth of July, one wants an inspiring message — a reminder of the love of freedom which has made America great, and can make it greater yet. Finding that in Washington these days is quite a challenge, as Roger Simon notes in his post on Happy Unbirthday America. There’s nothing to celebrate in profligate spending, in self-serving politicians bent on entrenching an entitlement culture, in the downgrading of America abroad and proliferating tomes of legislation and regulations fettering individual freedom at home. And yet — this is America. The spirit of freedom runs deep, and in the 234 years since Independence, one doesn’t have to reach that far to find a wealth of inspiration.
A quick look back at President Ronald Reagan’s speeches pulls up his remarks in New York, July 4, 1986. It was the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, newly refurbished. I remember that 4th of July. I was in New York at the time, working for the Wall Street Journal, which had just moved into new downtown offices, with windows looking out on the Hudson and Lady Liberty. There were ships, and fireworks. Reagan was leading America, and the world, toward better days, greater prosperity, and the end of the long Cold War. It was one heck of a party that July, and from a president who saw America as a shining city on a hill, we had the following address — worth the replay — “We pledge ourselves to each other and the cause of human freedom.” That’s who we were, and that’s who we still are, if we so choose. Happy Independence Day!