July 3, 1985

The signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 marked both the beginning of a new nation and the start of a great epoch in the history of political affairs. That day in Philadelphia, a Republic was born based on the idea of liberty for all. The Fourth of July is America's birthday celebration, but it is also a day of importance for anyone who believes in freedom.

The Declaration of Independence opened government to the people as never before. Each individual was acknowledged as possessing certain inalienable rights. And these rights in turn enabled our people to take part in their political system. Here was a true revolution, embodying the idea that government required the consent of those it governed. Overnight, Americans were acknowledged as citizens of a free land where they had once been only colonial subjects of a distant monarch.

To this day, this eloquent document detailing the rights of man and the concept of individual liberty is as moving as it is timely. It continues to hold profound meaning for us. We should remember the words of John Adams when he wrote of its signing to his wife Abigail as, ``the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.''

This Independence Day, 1985, let us be guided by the wisdom of that great American statesman and of all our Founding Fathers. As we commemorate 209 years of liberty today, let us pray for God's blessing and His help in safeguarding the precious legacy of the Declaration of Independence.

Ronald Reagan