Thinking of our son, Morgan, who'll be sweating and swatting sand fleas at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island this Independence Day. This was my letter to him today; hope he gets it in time.
From the moment of her birth, in her Declaration of Independence from the English monarchy, America has been exceptional. In its opening salvo on the king, America declared its essence as a "separate and equal" nation. More importantly, the authors of our history recognized, on behalf of their fledgling country and its countrymen, the self-evident truth "that all men are created equal."
Thus began the long march toward freedom that saw an eruption at Lexington and Concord, a brief respite after Yorktown, a reassessment in Gettysburg, an affirmation in Europe and Asia, and a re-examination taking place today. The ultimate pursuit, obtained in portions across our history, is the ability for each man, unfettered by the impositions of his neighbor, to pursue his greatest potential in this life. At its base, freedom is about man being able to maximize his human nature, which can only manifest itself through the development of broadly adopted, highly moral character, and appropriate action flowing from it. In short, man can only recognize true freedom by becoming and acting in a highly moral fashion, thereby enabling his neighbor to do the same.
Because this belief is not universal, we must constantly be on-guard against its diminution by those who seek to coerce and subjugate. As our nation labors forward, it faces challenges from abroad and from at-home. From third world dictators who seek to oppress and dominate us from outside, to a weak-minded popular culture that seeks to diminish us from within, America is constantly under attack. Fortunately, for over 200 years, our Declaration and Constitution have provided the framework for a system that supports these ideals. They are like a beacon on a hill in a rough and murky sea: shining brightly, both inward and outward, lighting the way out of bondage and toward freedom.
America has faced three great tests of its national character: one at its founding, another in resolving the dilemma of institutionalized slavery, and the third which is staring us in the face today. It is the notion, growing in popularity, that America does not represent something unique in the world, moreover that it doesn't represent something good. Like all lies, this one finds its basis in truth; namely that Americans have struggled imperfectly to achieve its high ideals, occasionally lapsing into periods of base, and even evil activity. What this distortion rejects, however, is our long history as a people who, through the darkness, seek the light and run toward it, arms outstretched in the hopes of embracing our neighbors along the way.
It is this character of our country, and our people, on which I hope you'll reflect this Independence Day. Because in the end, America desperately needs you and your brothers-in-arms. America remains a beacon of hope only so long as patriots like you recognize her for who she is, and commit yourselves to her perpetuation “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Fight hard, win, then come home.