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Independence Day Prayers ... Poetry, and Famous Quotations for the 4th of July
Let Freedom Ring! And Liberty too!

A collection of resources useful in celebrating the 4th of July (Independence Day) holiday or any other day when the cause of freedom is on the line.

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains or slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take but as for me; give me liberty or give me death!
Patrick Henry

Freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of freedom's substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order. If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith within.
Robert Jackson, Supreme Court Justice
Jehovah's Witness Case - WWII

He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.
Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

God grant that not only the love of liberty but a thorough knowledge of the rights of man pervade all the nations of the earth, so that a philosopher may pervade all the nations of the earth, so that a philosopher may set his foot anywhere on its surface and say:" This is my country."
Benjamin Franklin

It is during our most challenging and uncertain moments that our Nation's commitment to due process is most severely tested; and it is in those times that we must preserve our commitment at home to the principles for which we fight abroad.
Sandra Day O'Connor Hamdi v. Rumsfeld - 2004

Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.
John Milton (1608-1674)

The basis of a democratic state is liberty.
Aristotle (384 B.C.-322 B.C)

Liberty is the proper end and object of authority, and cannot subsist without it; and it is liberty to that which is good, just, and honest.
John Winthrop (1588-1649)

Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once.
David Hume (1711-1776)

The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered…staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.
George Washington (1732-1799)

There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.
John Adams (1735-1826)

Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined.
Patrick Henry (1736-1739)

The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance…
John Philpot Curran (1790)

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences of too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.
Thomas Jefferson (1791)

Irresponsible power is inconsistent with liberty, and must corrupt those who exercise it.
John Calhoun (1782-1850)

As long as I am an American citizen and American blood runs in these veins I shall hold myself at liberty to speak, to write, and to publish whatever I please on any subject.
Elija Lovejoy (1802-1837)

Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end.
Lord Acton (1834-1902)

Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

Liberty has restraints but no frontiers.
Lloyd George (1863-1945)

Too little liberty brings stagnation and too much brings chaos.
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

A useful definition of liberty is obtained only by seeking the principle of liberty in the main business of human life, that is to say, in the process by which men educate their responses and learn to control their environment.
Walter Lippman (1889-1974)

Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it…While it lies there, it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.
Learned Hand, jurist

There is no conflict between liberty and safety. We will have both or neither.
Ramsey Clark (1927--)

History teaches us that grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure.
Thurgood Marshall (1989), Supreme Court Justice

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty.
John F. Kennedy

Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.
George Bernard Shaw

Life without liberty is like a body without spirit.
Kahlil Gibran

Only our individual faith in freedom can keep us free.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us.
Stephen Covey

Responsibility is the price of freedom.
Elbert Hubbard

Prayers Before Congress:

Our fathers' God and ours, on the birthday of national independence we confess our dependence upon Thee. Without Thee we are lost in spite of the overwhelming might of our national arms.

We thank Thee for those pilgrims of faith who came hither in their frail barque across mountainous seas and who stepped upon strange shores with the salutation to a new world, "In the Name of God. Amen." The Nation here established, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal has acknowledged that Name above every name and reverenced it, has built its altars, reared its temples, and raised its steeples, emblems of a faith that points to the skies and wings its sure and certain way to God. Make that faith of the fathers, we pray, real to us in these tempestuous days. Save us from a freedom of speech so empty that we have nothing worth saying, from a freedom of worship so futile that we have no God to adore, from freedom from want and fear with no creative idea as to how to use our plenty or our security for the redemption of our social order and for the salvation of our own souls. Let all that is low and unworthy in us sink to the depths. Let all that is high and fine in us rise to greet the morn of a new day confident that the best is yet to be. Amen. (Source: Congressional Record-Senate, 78th Congress, first session, 89/5, July 5, 1943, 7160.)
Rev. Frederick Brown Harris, Chaplain, US Senate

Lord God of hosts, God of the nations: By your grace and in Your patience You have allowed this our land once again to celebrate its birth, its primal guest for liberty, justice, and equity. And we are grateful.

And once again by Your grace and in Your patience You have called this House-- responsible men and women who are equally faithful and unfaithful, righteous and unrighteous before You, each other, and the people-- You have called this House to the exercise of its solemn task of the legislation of law and the formation of the Nation.

Remind these Your servants that liberty, justice, and equity remain ahead of this Nation as tasks yet to be fulfilled and not as goals already reached.

Maintain before us a clear dedication to the needs of those in our midst who are on the outside because of age, ill health, race, sex, poverty, and urban or rural degredation.

And consecrate anew this Nation to the exercise of imaginative and sacrificial leadership in a restless and violent world which still struggles for authentic justice, peace, and a safe home in Your creation.

Accept now, O God, the labors of this day and the frail lives of Your servants in this House. To You be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen. (Source: Congressional Record-House, 102d Congress, second session, 138/99, Wednesday July 7, 1992, H5981.)
The Reverend Norman A. Hjelm, director of faith and order, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States, New York, NY

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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and author of Faith, Science and the Future, published in 1994 by CrossCurrents Press. He is also the author of God and Science (John Knox / Westminster, 1986) which he is now rewriting to incorporate more recent developments in the conversation taking place between scientists and theologians. He has also written widely for such publications as The New York Times, The Nation, Commonweal, The Christian Century and others.

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