America is a land like no other–a product of divine miracles, a haven for the freedom-loving for generations.
The Mayflower pilgrims met with brutal circumstances at Plymouth Plantation, losing in the first winter 45 of the 102 who made the voyage. They would live in poverty, debt, and extreme circumstances for many years. They would lose many of their family to disease and Indian wars. Notwithstanding their hardships, to the pilgrims, America was the Promised Land. Here, and only here, could they direct their own destiny by the light of their religious principles.
In the last four centuries, wave after wave of immigrants have followed the pilgrims to America’s shores. They have held before them the lamp of liberty, the vision of a better life, the hope of freedom from despots, kings and emperors. They were passionate about becoming American citizens. Irrespective of when they came and where they landed, they understood that becoming an American was a privilege, a unique blessing.
As we commemorate Independence Day, we often reflect on and honor the men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice fighting for democracy and freedom—those who fought to establish, preserve, and defend this great nation. These patriots are justly entitled to our highest praise.
However, on this Independence Day, I ask you to look to the future, to the threats America faces today. These threats differ from those our ancestors faced, but they are no less real. Our greatest threat arises not from some foreign tyrant or pernicious “ism”. Our greatest danger is America’s fiscal weakness, which in turn affects her ability to fill her role as the shining city on the hill, the Promised Land, Freedom’s beacon to all the world.
When he served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen said that the biggest threat to the United States’ security is the size of our national debt. As we totter on the edge of insolvency, we must look inward to the source of this great affliction. America has done this to herself. We Americans have no one to blame but ourselves. Like a heedless spendthrift, we have piled debt on debt without any plan of repayment. Moreover, we add $1 trillion to that debt each year. It is breathtaking. We are now more or less dependent on our bondholders and our creditors, and we may become subject to their manipulation.
Americans MUST make a stand. We cannot continue on this way. Our standing in the world is sinking. Our ability to fight wars and fill the role America is expected to play, will be limited by our financial vulnerability. Unless we act quickly and decisively, America will not be able to function as it must or keep its promises to our seniors, our needy, and our disabled.
I hope we will contemplate the boldness, courage, and willingness to sacrifice exhibited by the pilgrims, the founders, and the thousands who have served in the armed forces. We need those same virtues today if we are to overcome the very real and present dangers facing our nation.