As Americans prepare to celebrate the 236th year of our nation’s independence, I think it is important that we take time to recognize what it really means. We celebrate our independence from Britain, but also acknowledge our Founding Fathers and our founding documents. They remain the indispensable touchstone that makes our nation the great place it is.

Americans have fought and died for the principles contained in these documents, the most critical of which being the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson receives much of the credit for the final product, but he was assisted by many other capable writers, including John Adams.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington, DC, is promoting the idea that all Americans read the Declaration of Independence aloud on Independence Day. Regardless of our political affiliations, we can all appreciate the importance of the document that established the foundation of a country whose strong commitment to individual liberty truly made it exceptional.

As a father of three, I embrace the responsibility of raising my children and teaching them about our nation’s history. If we honestly want our young people to grow up with the same opportunities that we have had, then we have an obligation to instill in them the principles that have made it possible for so many years.

We should not assume that they will learn these lessons entirely on their own. Some of you may have seen the video of the schoolchildren in New York City who were singing Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless The USA” and being shouted down by adult protesters on the sidewalk. While these actions are protected by our First Amendment right to free speech, they also represent an opportunity for parents to teach their kids that they should never be afraid to express pride for their country. People are free to disagree, and that's a right we cherish as well. But it seems common courtesy is in ever shorter supply these days.

I encourage anyone reading this column to take a few minutes this Fourth of July to refresh your memory about the Declaration of Independence—the origin of freedom in the United States. And perhaps more importantly, treat this holiday as an opportunity to teach your children and grandchildren—the future generation—about the importance of freedom and all that has been done to sustain it during the past 236 years.


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