"We hold these truths to be self-evident ..."
As we celebrate the 225th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, it would be well for all of us in Alaska and on the Kenai Peninsula to recommit ourselves to the great experiment of democracy. The Founding Fathers faced problems and opportunities unheard of before 1776, and we today face problems and opportunities never before imagined.
The problems and opportunities facing the real and virtual world of an electronic society can overwhelm the individual or empower. Change is occurring in a nanosecond, however, the needs of the individual are as constant today as they were 225 years ago. Each person still needs appropriate education, employment that is genuine and fulfilling, and a safe society that respects the legitimate choices of each individual.
We must never forget that our freedom has been purchased in blood. Beginning with the American Revolution and continuing through the Civil War, the Mexican War, the Spanish American War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War, Americans have committed themselves to the principles that we are each endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
These principles provide opportunity linked to responsibility. There is no free lunch! If we do not educate our posterity well, our old age will be miserable and possibly non-existent. If we do not provide adequate employment that is enhancing and all-inclusive, we will see America become a feudal system of slaves and masters. If we do not protect the physical and emotional environment, we will see decay and desperation as the basis for human decision-making.
Here on the Kenai, we are facing the challenge of new educational opportunities. Economic partnerships are being developed with the petrochemical and health care communities that will provide real and virtual skills that will allow our young people to remain living on the Kenai while they raise their families. We are challenged to educate ourselves about the strengths and weaknesses of developing an expanding prison community so that we can vote intelligently in October.
We must continue to find ways to serve the needs of all constituent groups related to resource extraction of fish, game and minerals. The unresolved issue of subsistence and environmental safety demonstrates this need.
Our future is as bright as the stars and stripes on Old Glory. It will remain so as long as each individual takes the responsibility for their choices, casts an educated ballot in each election and is willing to think outside the box of the past.
The American dream is alive and well on the Kenai and in Alaska, however, as Lincoln said at Gettysburg, "Now we are engaged in a great civil war testing whether that nation or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated can long endure."
As we celebrate our 225th Fourth of July, let us dedicate ourselves anew to each other, our land and our liberty.
Dave Carey is the mayor of Soldotna and a teacher at Skyview High School.
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