by Joseph Schmitz –
As much as our Founding Fathers pledged to each other “our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor” in their July 4, 1776, Declaration of Independence, “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence,” and as much as our official national motto remains, “In God We Trust,” we do not have a God-given right to celebrate the Fourth of July each year.
Stated differently, there is no guarantee, divine or otherwise, that we will be celebrating Independence Day next year at this time.
To help us remember our American “first things,” i.e., defining American values that are worth fighting for — and even dying for — during these constitutionally challenging times, following are a few timely excerpts not only from our July 4, 1776, Declaration of Independence, but also from our earlier, July 6, 1775, Declaration by the Representatives of the United Colonies of North-America, Now Met in Congress at Philadelphia, Setting Forth the Causes and Necessity of Their Taking Up Arms:
“Our forefathers, inhabitants of the island of Great-Britain, left their native land, to seek on these shores a residence for civil and religious freedom. At the expense of their blood, at the hazard of their fortunes, without the least charge to the country from which they removed, by unceasing labour, and an unconquerable spirit, they effected settlements in the distant and unhospitable wilds of America . . .” (July 6, 1775)
“We are reduced to the alternative of chusing an unconditional submission to the tyranny of irritated ministers, or resistance by force. The latter is our choice. We have counted the cost of this contest, and find nothing so dreadful as voluntary slavery. . . .” (July 6, 1775)
“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; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . . .” (July 4, 1776)
“The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.” (July 4, 1776)
”He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good . . . .” (July 4, 1776)
“He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance. . . .” (July 4, 1776)
“He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution and unacknowledged by our laws, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation . . . .” (July 4, 1776)
“In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms; our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people . . . .” (July 4, 1776)
“We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that, as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for 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.” (July 4, 1776)| July 8, 2014
Joseph E. Schmitz served as Inspector General of the Department of Defense from April 2002 until September 2005; before that, while he was a Partner in the international law firm of Patton Boggs LLP, he served as Inspector General of the Naval Reserve Intelligence Command (as a Naval Reserve Captain). He is now CEO of Joseph E. Schmitz, PLLC, a veteran-owned small business law firm he founded in 2008, the core values of which are Integrity, Transparent Accountability, Disciplined Teamwork, and Independence. He graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy, and earned his J.D. degree from Stanford Law School. In 2013, Mr. Schmitz was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (Virginia Chapter) as an “Outstanding American.” He and his wife Mollie are the parents of eight children, and live in Bethesda, Maryland.