Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation

Jason Nungesser

How do we talk about the United States today? The land of the free? Of opportunity? As a shining example of rule of secular law? There was a dream once -- a promise made to each and every person born to this nation: you are exempt from the tyranny sweeping through other nations. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is yours for no other reason than you were born to, or came to these shores yearning to be free. That promise was penned in ink and confirmed by thirty-nine men. The freedom to speak your mind without retaliation; to hold on to your religion against another’s will; to report on the government and others -- all are inalienable rights. There are more, the right to privacy, to petition the government and to be secure in your belongings. And there are more. Yet these rights -- this covenant -- has gradually been eroded over time. We’ve seen speech by individuals restricted, while speech by corporate interests expanded; the majority religion imposed on the minority; the press harassed and hounded for not toeing the acceptable line. Abraham Lincoln once declared all men are created equal. We believe this to be true at the polls demonstrated by ‘one man, one vote,’ but this has not been the truth in society where well funded interests are trying to take away equal rights from the gay population, from the disenfranchised, from those who don’t participate in the majority religion. Two months and two-hundred and thirty years ago thirty-nine men signed a piece of paper creating a vision come to life. We have repeatedly failed them.