This talk was given by Ezra Taft Benson, nearly 33 years ago. He was a LDS Prophet, a leader in President Eisenhower's cabinet, a life-long farmer and a proud American citizen. He was a passionate advocate in America of Freedom. I feel this talk is appropriate for today, as today is Inauguration Day, and a historical new beginning in American government. I am grateful for our Founding Fathers and I pray that their determined spirit and pursuit of Freedom will continue. I pray America will always be known as the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. And I pray we will never forget or take for granted Our Priceless Heritage.
Our Priceless Heritage
Ezra Taft Benson
"As we approach the end of our nation’s Bicentennial celebration, it is appropriate that we consider our heritage, our citizenship in this great nation, and our membership in the restored church of Christ.
I pay fervent tribute to the forebears who made this possible—the Founding Fathers of this republic and our Mormon pioneers. I pay tribute to their faithful deeds, their noble lives, and their lasting lessons of faith in God, courage, industry, self-reliance, and integrity.
We stand today as beneficiaries of their priceless heritage to us, a heritage based on the truth that righteousness brings forth the blessings of God.
May I first pay honor to the founders of our beloved republic.
The Declaration of Independence to which these great men affixed their signatures is much more than a political document. It constitutes a spiritual manifesto—revelation, if you will—declaring not for this nation only, but for all nations, the source of man’s rights. Nephi, a Book of Mormon prophet, foresaw over 2,300 years ago that this event would transpire. The colonies he saw would break with Great Britain and that “the power of the Lord was with [the colonists],” that they “were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations.” (1 Ne. 13:16, 19.)
The Declaration of Independence was to set forth the moral justification of a rebellion against a long-recognized political tradition—the divine right of kings. At issue was the fundamental question of whether men’s rights were God-given or whether these rights were to be dispensed by governments to their subjects. This document proclaimed that all men have certain inalienable rights. In other words, these rights came from God. Therefore, the colonists were not rebels against political authority, but a free people only exercising their rights before an offending, usurping power. They were thus morally justified to do what they did.
Finally, the document concludes with this pledge. “For the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” (Italics added.)
How prophetic that pledge was to be!
Fifty-six men signed the document on August 2, 1776, or, in the case of some, shortly thereafter. They pledged their lives!—and at least nine of them died as a result of the war. If the Revolution had failed, if their fight had come to naught, they would have been hanged as traitors. They pledged their fortunes!—and at least fifteen fulfilled that pledge to support the war effort.
They pledged their sacred honor!—best expressed by the noble statement of John Adams. He said: “All that I have, and all that I am, and all that I hope, in this life, I am now ready here to stake upon it; and I leave off as I begun, that live or die, survive or perish, I am for the Declaration. It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying sentiment, Independence, now, and INDEPENDENCE FOR EVER.”
(Works of Daniel Webster, Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1877, 17th ed., 1:135.)
How fitting it is that we sing:
O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
“America the Beautiful,” Hymns, no. 126 "
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009
at 9:31 AM