Americans have the wrong idea about the Fourth of July.

Perhaps it is due to the fireworks displays celebrating the holiday, giving the appearance of a bombardment suitable for the flag still being there at Fort McHenry as memorialized by Francis Scott Key in our national anthem.


Perhaps it is vague recollections from school of Valley Forge, Bunker Hill, Lexington and Concord, or even Yorktown.

Or, it may even be people equating Independence Day with all the battles fought for freedom over the past 238 years.

But America is unique. Our nation's founding was based on an idea expressed through the signing of the Declaration of Independence by 56 men who risked their lives and fortunes in proclaiming:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

In those 55 words, the entire relationship between the individual and government was turned on its head.

A bold pronouncement of absolute truth, they found that all men are created by a Creator equal and that each person has God-given rights that cannot be stripped away.

They then go further to define the role of government, recognizing its necessity, but making it clear that in contrast to the inalienable rights of each man, that government is merely a creation of men serving at the will of those whom it leads.

The revolutionary thought laid down on paper that government is not established through divine right of the king, but rather from a liberty-imbued people who retain the fundamental right to "alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government."

It is the simple, yet powerful idea that God made the people the boss of the government, and not the other way around, that is America's DNA.

The culture that flows from this assumption of liberty explains the lines of people around the world, hungry for freedom, trying to legally enter our nation to join this great, ongoing experiment.

This Independence Day, let all Americans put our political differences aside, and pray, meditate and ponder the greatest 55 words ever penned — powerful words and beliefs that launched the greatest nation in the history of the world. The United States of America, a nation built on the bedrock of individual liberty, and cemented with the blood of patriots.

Happy Independence Day!

Manning (@rmanning957) is vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government. Contact him at