In the eyes of the world, America stands for one thing above all: the promise of freedom. Even people who have never in their lives laid eyes on an American know of the promise of America, know that that promise means a better life, a life of freedom.
From the moment our Founding Fathers first put ink to the parchment that is the Declaration of Independence and pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to create this nation, that promise has come alive. If the Revolution had failed and the massive power of the British Empire prevailed over the colonists, the signers of the Declaration of Independence would have been rounded up, tried, and executed for treason against the Crown. Their properties and private fortunes would have been expropriated, and their families would have been left penniless and disgraced. When they made the commitment to stand together and break free of British rule in the name of liberty and independence, they were literally putting their lives on the line.
The roots of American liberty and patriotism were planted at the very beginning of the Republic. Each generation has been supported and nourished by the sacrifices and commitments of the patriotic Americans who have gone before it. And each generation has been charged with carrying the torch of liberty passed to it, keeping that flame alive as best it could before passing the torch forward, still burning brightly.
Subtly or overtly, each generation passes American exceptionalism to the next, be it through innovations like Henry Ford and his assembly line, or Thomas Edison and the light bulb, or Steve Jobs and the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, or through the encouraging words of parents to their children, assuring them that they can grow up to be anything they like if they put their minds to it and work hard. "Let the American youth never forget, that they possess a noble inheritance, bought by the toils, and sufferings, and blood of their ancestors," Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story said. That’s a lesson for all of us to remember.
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