The Responsibility of Our Freedoms
A Guest Column by State Senator Tim Schaffer
June 30, 2021
Each July Fourth, as I reflect on the birth of our nation, I am reminded of the awesome responsibility that our Founders entrusted to us just two centuries ago. Independence Day memorializes the creation of the Declaration of Independence, when the Continental Congress announced that the 13 colonies were to secede from England and proclaimed the right of self-governance.
By signing that document, the fifty-six members declared open treason on the basis that their natural, God-given freedoms had been affronted. They risked their reputations, livelihoods, and lives in this endeavor, but explained their reasons for severing all ties with Britain, as: “When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce [the People] under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
Our Founders believed that it was not just the duty of the people to throw off oppressive governments, but also understood that it was the people’s responsibility to continuously work to protect their rights as a self-governed people. As Americans, we have inherited that same responsibility, to "provide new Guards for their future." Independence Day is both about celebrating the birth of our nation and recognizing the great task that has been bestowed upon us.
Take time to celebrate these liberties this weekend, but remember the great responsibility entrusted to us. These freedoms have been passed down from prior generations to us, and it is our duty not just to pass them on, but to continue to instill the responsibility and ownership of these rights in generations to come.