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  • Writer's pictureDale Hanks

Our Lives, Fortunes and Sacred Honor


The 4th of July, our nation’s Independence Day, is coming up this weekend. Parades, fireworks, and cookouts will be how many Americans celebrate the holiday.


I always find myself getting choked up at patriotic displays of love for our country. It’s incredibly touching to see stadiums full of people proudly singing the National Anthem, or local air shows with the Navy Blue Angels flying low overhead in their F/A-18 fighter jets, or the U. S. Army firing their cannons on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol to the strains of “God Bless America” with fireworks lighting up the monuments.


One of my most stirring memories is when I was involved in community theater and a local arts program put on a rather epic production of the Tony-award winning musical, 1776. I was cast as Thomas Jefferson. If you’ve never seen the stage production or the movie—1776 is a portrayal of the events surrounding the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In the final scene of the show, the sound of the Liberty Bell is heard in the background as each of the delegates from the 13 states are called forward to sign the Declaration. As the final delegate is called, the actors freeze in the same position as the famous painting, Congress Voting Independence, by Robert Edge Pine. The Liberty Bell continues tolling louder and louder as the stage lights go dark. There was nary a dry eye among those of us on stage or in the audience.



There can be no doubt that these founders knew exactly what they were risking by signing this Declaration. They even included the statement, “with firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” They knew that they, and our fledgling country, would be in for the fight of their very lives. Many of them paid dearly for signing, even having their sons taken prisoner and tortured. They were told that their sons would be released if they renounced the Declaration of Independence. None did.


Were these passionate signers of the Declaration of Independence “right-wing extremists?” No. They were patriots who loved their country and stood up to a tyrant.

Today, being a patriot and loving your country, according to some on the left, means that you MUST be a right-wing extremist, a white supremacist, or one of those “Make America Great Again” fanatics.


According to Webster’s dictionary, the definition of patriotism is the “love for, or devotion to, one’s country.” Sadly however, the left and the mainstream media twist the meaning to equate the word “patriotism” with “nationalism.” “Nationalism” has a definitively pronounced negative connotation. Again, back to the dictionary, the definition of nationalism is the “identification with one’s own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations.”


The late journalist, Sydney J. Harris wrote, “The difference between patriotism and nationalism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does, and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does.” Nationalism and patriotism both share a love of country, but nationalism is the belief that one’s own country is better than all others.


I believe this is what trips people up with the term “American exceptionalism.” Exceptionalism doesn’t mean we’re superior or better people than anyone else, it means that our founding is unique and the “exception” to anything that has ever happened in the history of human civilization. The fact that our Declaration of Independence and Constitution have memorialized freedom, liberty, and the idea that our very human rights our derived from God and NOT from government IS the exception.


America is the engine of prosperity, the defender of freedom, and a force for good in the world. However, there are those who believe they need to apologize for America and that our country needs to be "brought down to size."


But a weakened, diminished America benefits no one.


As a nation, we’re weakened by the left’s and the media’s constant labeling of patriotism as some kind of mental disorder.


We are in a fight for the soul of our nation just as those 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence knew they would be. It’s not a new fight, it’s the same fight they fought; to defend America’s freedom and liberty.


We live in a country whose values, ideals and way of life are worth loving and protecting…at all costs.


The Spirit of 1776 lives on.


The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots…

and tyrants.

– Thomas Jefferson


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