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4th of July

July 4th Celebration Address 2020

On the 4th of July, Monticello College will hold a sunrise service beginning at 5:50am. Following this devotional, the college president will read the short speech below and offer a showing of the David Barton video: Sands of Time.

On this day of celebration, it is customary to recite some moments of historical significance regarding the War of Independence and the break from Great Britain. But today I have chosen to spend a few minutes remembering why the war occurred and what that great struggle was meant to achieve. As I have reflected on this idea, my mind returned over and over to the simplicity and gravity of the 1954 U.S. Pledge of Allegiance:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Many would say that our great nation began on July 4, 1776. We had a great struggle for independence, and organized a new nation–that history is abundantly available and part of our curriculum at Monticello College. But the IDEA of a nation like our started much earlier, in fact, a case could be made that it started as early as 1607, with the settlement of Jamestown or 1636 with the establishment of Harvard University.  Or maybe it wasn’t until the appearance of great frontiersmen of the late 1700’s such as Daniel Boone or Davy Crockett. Whatever date you use as a starting point, the Pledge of Allegiance is very instructive as a focal point for what the framers intended for this nation to become.

United States of America

America was, according to the framers, to be a nation of nations, or to use the term of the time, a “federation of sovereign states.” Each state was supreme in its administration within its borders but ceded limited powers to a central government.


The framers combed through thousands of years of history and through all sorts of forms and philosophies of government reading the writings of great writers such as Herodotus, Thucydides, Plato and Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Montaigne, Cervantes, Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Rousseau and Montesquieu, finally settling on a Republic as the best form of government.

One Nation Under God

Without attempting to dictate the future, the framers left a legacy of religious observance in official acts, writings, and art to encourage their progeny to have an expectation of Divine influence if the nation was to remain. From the chambers of the Supreme Court to the Capitol’s Rotunda, religious engravings and art can be seen by all to evince the influence of religion and dependence on a Divine Creator in the forming of our great nation.


As families can have their squabbles and disagreements, so too can a nation of sovereign states find reasons to disagree. In spite of this propensity, the framers envision our nation to be unified and indivisible. A great and terrible war was fought to test this resolve and to date, it has held.

Liberty and Justice for All

The Signing of the Constitution of the United States, with George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson at the Constitutional Convention of 1787; oil painting on canvas by Howard Chandler Christy, 1940. The painting is 20 by 30 feet and hangs in the United States Capitol building. (Photo by GraphicaArtis/Getty Images)

The foundation and supreme logic behind the formation of our nation is the establishment and protection of liberty and the administration of justice. In many ways America is a global leader in the protection of human and civil rights. In other areas, it is a continuing struggle, but as obvious as our faults may be, all are free to protest and express their grievances as guaranteed under the 1st amendment and demonstrated over the past few months.

As we celebrate this 4th of July holiday, we can rejoice in the liberties that all Americans enjoy, we should give thanks for the miracle that America is, and we must continue to defend the rights of all Americans through education, public discourse, and the administration of justice.

The framers would have it no other way.


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