Thursday, July 2, 2015


This week marks the 239th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and the birth of our free and sovereign nation. We all know well the Declaration's chief passage:

"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.”

Our nation’s philosophical foundation, unique in the history of the world, is reflected in these profound words. The Declaration provides a framework for a vibrant American society by outlining the notions—ever ancient and ever new—of who we are as a people. Rooted in the fundamental concepts of liberty and justice, the United States has grown and prospered across time. Our strength is drawn from our values: the dignity of all persons, the importance of community, and the responsibility of freedom—the cherished first principle of human life.

As we celebrate this Independence Day, we are also reminded that our freedoms are under some duress. Cultural discord, economic hardship, and political dysfunction are wounding our country, and different accounts of how to preserve our freedom often clash harshly in the public square. Some turn to either the government or the market, hoping Washington or Wall Street can solve our problems. While we must work toward both proper government and economic dynamism, the answer to our troubles lies in a third way: promoting a strong society.

Society is the space where individuals can flourish in strong families and communities—the space where liberty is sustained. It is the place where persons can pursue genuine freedom, which is the ability to do what we ought for ourselves and one another. As we navigate a particularly turbulent period of national affairs, we might consider the words of the second stanza of America the Beautiful: "Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law." Freedom is best secured and practiced when it is ordered toward that which is good.

As we spend the holiday with families and loved ones, enjoying the festivals, parades, and fireworks displays in our communities, we celebrate our blessings as Americans: that our home is built on such enduring higher truths. The clear and powerful ideals of the Declaration offer a reminder of our nation's capacity to overcome the greatest challenges. May we remember those who have sacrificed before us and our obligation as citizens to protect and pass forward in time the great virtues of our nation.

I wish you all a happy and safe Independence Day!

About the Author:

JEFF FORTENBERRY has served as the U.S. Representative for Nebraska's 1st congressional district since 2005. He is the Chairperson for the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry. Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights and has a seat on the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.

He is a member of the following Caucus groups: Civil War Battlefield Caucus - Congressional Biofuels Caucus - Congressional Farmer Cooperative Caucus - House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus - International Conservation Caucus - Sportsmen's Caucus

Congressman Fortenberry has become the most knowledgeable representative on Capitol Hill for nuclear security issues.

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