In the life of our nation, there are few moments when we are as unified and inspired with hope for our country’s future as during a presidential inauguration. We can rise above the political battles and our differences over issues to celebrate the ideal that unites us – the cause of freedom.
President Bush’s inaugural address yesterday set out a vision, not just for the next four years, but for a generation.
There can be no doubt about the legacy that he wants to leave, a legacy that spreads the love of liberty throughout the globe so that “one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.”
And he challenged each one of us to be part of that mission, asking us to ask ourselves, “Did our generation advance the cause of freedom?”
While he focused on the spread of democracy around the globe, he also talked of the deeper freedom that needs to take hold in this country – that of self-government. “By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow Americans greater freedom from want and fear, and make our society more prosperous and just and equal.”
And he challenged the young people of today to understand the importance of character as the soul of America, the foundation on which liberty and self-government must rest. “In America’s ideal of freedom, the public interest depends on private character – on integrity, and tolerance toward others, and the rule of conscience in our own lives.”
This was an eloquent, inspiring, and visionary speech.
Inaugural events each have their own character. While the temperature struggled to stay above freezing yesterday, Washington warmed to the 70s twenty-four years ago when President Reagan was sworn in to his first term. He had brought the warmth of the California sunshine with him to Washington – and the hope of a free and prosperous new era.
The cause of freedom that Reagan inspired nearly a quarter century ago has built a foundation that makes the vision of this president much more attainable.
Both visions spring from the same well: “Americans by choice and by birth are bound to one another in the cause of freedom?We have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value.”
The force of human freedom is the greatest power on the planet. The protection and spread of dignity are our greatest goal. These are indeed “the deep commitments that unite our country.”
P.S. I was honored to have received an official invitation to attend the presidential inaugural events in Washington. However, I was unable to attend because I am still away working on my writing project and I had long ago accepted an invitation to speak to the American Private Physicians Association in California. These physicians, led by Dr. Richard Taw, are united in their mission to practice medicine as they choose: Putting their patients first. Are they doing their part to “advance the cause of freedom?” Unquestionably yes.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist described his vision of a health care system built around consumer choice and innovation in an article published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled, “Health Care in the 21st Century.” For this and other important articles of the week, please see Greg Scandlen’s newsletter, Consumer Choice Matters.
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