Hurd on the Hill: Remember the last sentence too
Each year as July 4th approaches it is so easy to get caught up in the fireworks, barbecues and parades around us. There’s no shame in doing so – as a nation we have a lot to celebrate as we reflect on the founding of our great nation 243 years ago. As you sing along with your friends and family about how the stars and stripes remained gallantly streaming through the perilous fight, I encourage you to also think about the values that this great nation was founded on.
“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.” This was the second sentence of our Declaration that 243 years ago launched an experiment called America, where the circumstance of our birth doesn’t determine the outcome of our life. It’s a sentence that all of us remember and none of us forget.
But to ensure this experiment continues, we need to remember and recommit to the final sentence of our Declaration of Independence, “[F]or the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our Lives, our Fortunes and our Sacred Honor.”
One of the things I consistently hear when I’m back home crisscrossing South and West Texas is that folks fear our country is on the wrong track and that we live in a nation more divided than ever. I understand why you all feel this way – I often feel the same after seeing pointless partisan bickering in Congress. However, what I have seen during my time in Congress is that bipartisanship is a real thing, and it is the only way to ensure that everyone’s voices are heard. As we celebrate our freedoms, we must remember that the only way we are going to be able to keep them is by fighting for them – together.
We cannot forget one of the founding principles of our great nation is free speech – or put alternatively, the ability to disagree. Through civil discourse and competition of ideas, we have created policies that have allowed Americans and America to prosper. We must come together as a nation and show the world our ability to disagree civilly, and that more unites us than divides us. For this ‘experiment called America’ to continue to thrive, we must be able to disagree with one another, without being disagreeable. Too much is at stake right now to let our differences get in the way of our work to protect freedom.