Courage of small group led to birth of a great nation

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 July, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 July, 1996, 12:00am

The United States is 220 years old today. As a nation, we have come a long way from the small group of representatives from the 13 original states who gathered together in Philadelphia to declare independence from England.

These representatives 'pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honour' to the struggle for freedom.

They risked all for the principles in which they believed.

We Americans, as descendants of those first courageous signers of the Declaration of Independence, remember their spirit of courage and willingness to sacrifice for the principles and reality of creating a democratic form of government.

They have bequeathed to us a precious heritage - a heritage of respect for humanity and of belief in the right of the people to form and maintain their own government.

We must safeguard the right of the individual to participate in the decision making that affects their daily lives.

Little did those early founding fathers of the United States envisage the great and powerful nation that is the present day United States - a far-flung nation extending from the Pacific to the Atlantic oceans; a world leader in education, trade and the arts; and an economic entity whose commerce and trade interact with nearly every nation on earth.

America's contributions to democracy, rule of law and human rights have extended around the globe.

Ours is a nation with a cultural richness and economic opportunity so attractive that it has drawn immigrants from around the world.

As a home for the best these immigrants have had to give, America has richly benefitted from their gifts and talents.

These gifts have been bonded together with an American spirit and ingenuity to produce the unique national quilt that is America.

It is a culture and nation so compelling that it still attracts nearly a million new immigrants a year.

On this occasion of the 220th anniversary of the founding of the United States of America, let us as Americans not forget what we celebrate.

These are not just civic lessons taught to us as schoolchildren and then to be taken for granted.

Let us remember that we must continue to work to preserve this precious legacy given us by our founding fathers so long ago.

Let us remember that we are still called upon, that we still have the responsibility to make contributions to furthering this great legacy so that we can, in our turn, pass it on to the next generation and to generations to come.

Therefore, let us pledge ourselves to the responsibilities of that unique document - the Declaration of Independence - and to its spirit, to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

RICHARD W. MUELLER Consul-General of the United States