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'In the Defense of the Freedom that is our Birthright'

By Angela Wittman

"Our cause is just. Our union is perfect. Our internal resources are great, and, if necessary, foreign assistance is undoubtedly attainable. -- We gratefully acknowledge, as signal instances of the Divine favour towards us, that his Providence would not permit us to be called into this severe controversy, until we were grown up to our present strength, had been previously exercised in warlike operation, and possessed of the means of defending ourselves. With hearts fortified with these animating reflections, we most solemnly, before God and the world, declare, that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers, which our beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have been compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverence, employ for the preservation of our liberties; being with one mind resolved to die freemen rather than to live slaves....

"In our own native land, in defence of the freedom that is our birthright, and which we ever enjoyed till the late violation of it -- for the protection of our property, acquired solely by the honest industry of our fore-fathers and ourselves, against violence actually offered, we have taken up arms. We shall lay them down when hostilities shall cease on the part of the aggressors, and all danger of their being renewed shall be removed, and not before.

"With an humble confidence in the mercies of the supreme and impartial Judge and Ruler of the Universe, we most devoutly implore his divine goodness to protect us happily through this great conflict, to dispose our adversaries to reconciliation on reasonable terms, and thereby to relieve the empire from the calamities of civil war."

Taken from the "Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms of the Second Continental Congress, July 6, 1775," (believed to have been written by Thomas Jefferson.)

While our president is promoting war with Iraq, let us contemplate these words from our Founding Fathers. Is the war with Iraq a just cause? Have we, as in the words of founding father Thomas Jefferson, " reached the point where our only other alternative is submission to tyranny"? Has Sadam threatened to implement forced slavery of the citizens of the United States? Is this a war that is in "defense of the freedom that is our birthright"? Or is this a war that is unnecessary, unconstitutional and undeclared by Congress? Are we going to war for our love of country and the sovereignty of our nation? Or could it be, we, as a nation, have become a "player" in a global game that will cost us the lives of our sons and daughters? I pray we will all deeply reflect upon the founding principles and documents of our nation before we rush to take up arms and send our troops to battle on foreign soil for a war that has no clear or definite objective. May we not enter into this hastily without weighing the cost.

A friend in California recently wrote that a Christian radio talk-show host in Los Angeles had declared that any one who opposes the war in Iraq is a traitor. The talk-show host feels we are not supporting our troops if we object to sending them to fight in Iraq. This is a perfect example of a citizen getting caught up in a wave of emotion without taking time to examine and carefully weigh the facts of this impending war. Let us each carefully weigh the consequences of this action before throwing our support behind it. It is real lives that will be lost and the blood of our loved ones that will be spilled. Let us be sure that this is a just cause and we then will have the confidence of our Founding Fathers that God Almighty will hear our prayers for protection and victory.

In conclusion, let us reflect upon these words of Patrick Henry, spoken on March 23, 1775, and then may we prayerfully search our hearts to see if we are about to enter into a "holy cause of liberty".

"Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we posess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone: it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery. Our chains are forged. Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston. The war is inevitable. And let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come!

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry peace, peace, but there is no peace. The war is actually begun. The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms. Our brethren are already in the field. Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? what would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!"

Originally published in 2003.


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