The American Declaration of Independence is one of the most profound documents of western civilization. Yet its measured case for humankind’s inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness might be as little known as the science of the Aztecs were it not for the feats of arms and sacrifices of America’s first veterans – the few thousand patriots who made-up the Continental Army.
We here at CHQ have a special admiration for those daring patriots who declared our independence and risked all to establish the first and only nation dedicated to preserving the sovereignty of the individual human spirit.
For constitutional conservatives like us, the words of the Framers of the Constitution are so very important because they define the limits on government power.
But today on Veterans Day, it is important to remember that the patriots who fought our Revolution didn’t fight for the Constitution; they fought for the Declaration of Independence and a unique “pre-Constitution” revolutionary vision of individual liberty.
When the elected delegates went off to the Continental Congress to represent the people of the 13 colonies, and eventually to sign the Declaration of Independence, everyone in America was a “subject.” However, alive in the hearts of those “subjects” who were delegates to the Continental Congress was a unique vision; a vision of life without kings, where each human being is himself sovereign before God.
The Declaration of Independence recognizes and claims on behalf of all mankind that the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness don’t come from the divine to government, but from the divine to the individual.
This patriot vision, found in the Declaration of Independence, articulates our national creed and is the very foundation of American exceptionalism – in it we are truly unique in the annals of time, but its success was not foreordained.
A mere two months after the Declaration of Independence was ratified, the British Redcoats defeated George Washington's army in the Battle of Long Island and Washington's tiny army would be forced to escape into the night – the first of many times that a small group of men, struggling for their lives, was all that stood between the idea of the sovereign individual and the reality of being a subject.
This Veterans Day, as a new enemy has arisen whose oppressive ideology of submission is cloaked in religion, it is more important than ever to remember that the preservation of our revolutionary American idea – that the individual is sovereign – is not foreordained. Its survival hinges, as it always has, on its power to bring forth a new generation of veterans who are willing to lay down their lives to protect it.