Yet, from that day to this, hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans have risen to challenges that have immortalized the high ideals of the signers, withstanding the tests of politics, war and time. From its humble beginnings as a group of beleaguered and isolated colonies, the United States of America has risen to world preeminence. That did not happen simply because its founders inscribed their signatures upon that, now sacred document. It happened because the high ideals contained therein have animated the imagination of the American people, permeating its social fabric and national soul.
Every challenge to its sovereignty has been defeated, every attempt to stop the spirit of freedom that courses through its veins has been surpassed, and every attempt to pervert its destiny has failed. The greatest danger to America is not from without, it resides within. It is the danger of unimaginable prosperity with undisciplined freedom and irresponsible behavior. Danger to America lies in pervasive failure of personal honor, honesty, integrity, trust, responsibility, and accountability. The danger to America is in forgetting moral imperative that life is about people, and in ignoring the transient nature of the human experience. Yet despite these dangers, there remains bright hope in America.
The real American dream is not of riches, power, and position. The real American dream is of intellectual and physical freedom, freedom of the soul, freedom of hope, freedom of faith, and freedom to try, to fail, and to succeed. For untold millions that dream has become reality because the founding principles were inscribed, hard fought for and won with the blood of hundreds of thousands of patriots; fiercely independent patriots who were, self reliant, and loyal to the common and priceless cause of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
The fog shrouded image of long lines of patient immigrants, bowed before the great Statue of Liberty, awaiting a chance to enter America is reminiscent of the ancient story of one whose hope for healing was only to touch the hem of the Master's garment; similarly, by merely entering here, the hopes, aspirations and dreams of countless millions would be fulfilled. Today, some remain in long lines, patiently hoping and yearning for the American breath of freedom and to realize their dreams of peace, security and prosperity.
Others so eager to taste of America ignore its boundaries, enter illegally and take jobs from citizens while many of those disenfranchised citizens are supported by taxes that both illegal immigrants and their employers pay. What a sad commentary on Americans. In earlier times that would not have stood the test of honesty, integrity and accountability. Shame would not have allowed it, but today there is no shame.
Today, America's strength is not in its diversity, its great strength lies largely untapped, in its potential ability to unify its diversity into common vision and purpose. To the extent that political leaders pursue and exercise power acquired through divisiveness, America's potential is wasted. Conversely, to the extent that Americans pursue unity of direction and purpose, as long as there are patriots who devote their intellect, talents, energies and lives to the preservation of the high ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence, so long as the Nation bears true faith and allegiance to the same, so long as it aspires to the high ideals, moral imperatives and unity of purpose set forth therein, the sacrifices of the heroic signers of that "sacred" writ will not have been in vain, and the American beacon will illuminate the world once again.