Senate District 18
John Eklund
Celebrating the Spirit of America on Independence Day
A Guest Column by State Senator John Eklund
June 28, 2016

Today, we’re so accustomed to living in the most powerful and free nation in the world that we can lose sight of how unlikely the birth of America really was. In the midst of parades, barbeques and fireworks, let us think about the sacrifice our founding fathers made to forge a new destiny. Let us remember that the parchment schoolchildren and tourists examine curiously from behind a thick panel of glass contains words that quite literally changed the course of human events:

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.

When George Washington read these words aloud to a crowd from the steps of New York City Hall, the people rioted. They toppled a statue of King George III and melted it down to make 42,000 musket balls for the revolution. 

Why did the words of the Declaration of Independence invoke such an incredible response? 

For a year before the signing of the Declaration, an army of ragtag volunteers had struggled mightily against the most powerful army and navy on earth. The American colonialists could not have faced a taller Goliath than the British empire. In 1776, the Declaration of Independence affirmed the reason they fought such an uphill battle. They fought for the freedom to determine their own future. They fought for a system of government that reflected their will instead of imposing its own. They fought for a government that restrained itself in the interest of liberty. They knew the cost of freedom well.

How do we keep the spirit of our country’s founders alive in America today? We continue their fight against our own Goliaths. We oppose the human trafficking that violates the dignity and freedom of thousands of Ohioans. We equip our law enforcement officers to combat the acts of violence and terror that claim innocent lives. We invest resources to fight the opiate epidemic that has ravaged our communities. We ramp up the effort to equip young people for fulfilling careers in a time of economic dislocation and mounting student debt. We give people the opportunity to find meaningful employment give and dreamers and innovators the chance to realize their vision and goals.

We also continue our founders’ fight for a balanced, restrained form of government.  As the size of the federal government balloons, it becomes more capable of trampling the rights we’ve fought so hard to preserve. This year, the Ohio Senate passed a resolution calling on the federal government to restore more power to the states in areas like transportation, education and healthcare. We called on the federal government to limit its own spending authority by passing a Balanced Budget Amendment.

Just as important, we also remember what our history teaches us. As a nation we face seemingly insurmountable challenges. Independence Day reminds us that we’ve faced them before and overcome. Whether we’re up against complex social problems or government overreach, we never stop believing that tomorrow can be brighter than today. It’s in our DNA. As we celebrate Independence Day with our loved ones, let’s celebrate the spirit that fights for a better country no matter what obstacles stand in the way.

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