Greetings, everyone! I hope y’all had a Happy Independence Day with friends and family. Founding Father John Adams said this about the 4th of July:

“The date will be 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. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

Sadly, we had the city of Orlando apologizing and declaring shame for our 246th Independence Day. As well, we had the face of evil fire upon an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Illinois. There were many advocating canceling Independence Day. This is not what Adams wanted for this memorable day.

I had the distinct honor to address the congregation of my church on Sunday as part of our Independence Day services. At the end of my presentation I read the entire Declaration of Independence. As I drove home after service, I wondered how many had never read the entire Declaration of Independence? I exhorted my fellow congregants to take time and read the Declaration to their families and share with others on Independence Day. That was what happened 246 years ago in America when the Declaration of Independence was publicly read all over the country in town squares. The first time I publicly read the Declaration of Independence was as a member of Congress in Delray Beach, Florida.

Funny, can anyone remember when an American president read the entire Declaration of Independence on Independence Day? I do not say 4th of July, that is just a date on the calendar. I believe calling it Independence Day has a more memorable impact on our nation.

What happens if we fail to read, study, and understand the incredible document that established these United States of America? Simple, leftists will come along and revise, remake, or even eradicate our history and tell us that America was established in 1619, and it rooted not in individual rights, freedom, and liberty . . . but rather slavery. If Americans forget from whence we came, they will not realize where we are. And, someone else will determine where we are heading.

The Declaration of Independence is a unique document. It established the premise that the unalienable rights of American citizens emanate from the Judeo-Christian Creator God, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Jefferson quotes the theory of natural rights of English political philosopher, John Locke when he affirmed the “laws of nature and nature’s God.” Jefferson listed the grievances against King George III, many are being replicated today.

Fifty-six men — yeah, they were white — signed their death warrants when they affixed their names to the Declaration of Independence, as they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

Our tradition in the West Family is to be together as a family, eat PaPop’s grilled chow with invited friends, and watch the movie, “The Patriot.”  There is no cursing or nudity in the movie, but yes, it depicts how violent it was for those men who fought to ensure we would be here today. How many of you have ever seen the movie?

In closing, I want to bid farewell to an American Patriot that I had the honor to meet on several occasions. He was a United States Marine. His name was Herschel “Woody” Williams. Last week he reported to his final duty station. Woody Williams was the last Medal of Honor recipient from World War II. He earned this distinction on the black sands of Iwo Jima as a flamethrower operator, a very dangerous duty. He was singularly responsible for eliminating several enemy pillbox fortifications that were bringing deadly fire upon his fellow Marines.

Photo of Herschel "Woody" Williams receiving the Medal of Honor from President Truman

In our home is the autographed picture of Woody Williams receiving the Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman. I also have a portrait of Mel Gibson’s character, Benjamin Martin, loosely associated with the “Swamp Fox” Francis Marion, displayed.

Painting of Mel Gibson's character, Benjamin Martin, by Doug Giles

On Independence Day, what did you read to your family, and what do you have displayed in your home? That will determine whether the words of John Adams reference Independence Day will be remembered.

Steadfast and Loyal.