Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series of columns by Joseph Farah commemorating Independence Day 2001.

Does America have the courage to recover the freedom it has lost in the last 200 years?

That is the question.

Too many Americans, in my opinion, are overly concerned with safety and security, and not nearly enough are concerned about freedom and liberty.

That’s the trap that government always uses to lure power away from the self-governing individual.

Self-government is, after all, what the War of Independence was all about. That was what George Washington and his barefoot men sacrificed for in the snows at Valley Forge. It wasn’t simply a matter of independence from the crown of England. It was a war fought so that free men could govern themselves.

The Founding Fathers believed in the principle that the nation that governs least governs best. They believed that an educated people, a moral people, a courageous people would be up to the task of running their own lives.

And that’s why the colonists fought.

It was a much bigger and more profound concept than national sovereignty.

Are we willing to fight today? Thomas Jefferson believed we as a people needed to mix it up, even spill a little blood, every so often to maintain our liberty. Are Americans willing to fight for our freedom?

I wonder.

If not, our celebrations tomorrow will ring very hollow. They might be marked by fireworks, parades, barbecues and white sales, but they will lack the spirit of 1776. They will lack the principle. They will lack the vision. They will lack the courage.

Freedom isn’t about prescription drug plans dictated by Washington. Freedom isn’t about more laws. Freedom isn’t about a false security promised by your federal government. Freedom isn’t about being numbered from cradle to grave. Freedom isn’t about having your wealth confiscated by government before you even cash your paycheck. Freedom isn’t about the government miseducating your child. Freedom isn’t about United Nations peacekeeping missions. Freedom isn’t about more cops on the beat.

Freedom, ultimately, is about the liberation of the individual to run his or her own life with minimal interference from government. Period. End of story.

Are we prepared in America to renew the dream of self-government?

No, but that’s what we ought to pledge ourselves to do tomorrow, as we nosh on watermelon and hot dogs and watch the rockets’ red glare.

It’s time for renewal in America – spiritual renewal.

George Washington said it best – but I wonder if there are enough Americans who haven’t been dumbed down by the popular culture and government education to understand and heed his words today.

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports,” he wrote. “In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect the National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

He added: “‘Tis substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free Government. Who that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?”

The foundation of our fabric has been shaken, indeed, in recent years. Freedom is unknowable and unachievable apart from the promises of God. So, maybe the best way to commemorate Independence Day 2001 would be to pray for America’s moral and spiritual restoration.

It’s America’s last, best hope for preserving and rediscovering true freedom.

Happy Independence Day.

Day 1: Land of the free …

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