Idaho Examiner - Sen. Larry Craig News Releases

Friday, June 24, 2005

Can’t Un-ring That Bell

by Senator Larry Craig

A day or two ago, I heard someone use a phrase that I hadn’t heard in quite a while. The phrase was “You can’t un-ring that bell.” Its meaning is simple and undeniable; there are some actions that, once committed, can’t be taken back.

When our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, they well understood that they were ringing a very large bell, loud and clear. Once pen was put to paper, they realized, King George III and the British government would have a neat, tidy list of the American Revolution’s key leaders and fomenters. Each and every one could be arrested and tried for committing treason against the Crown. Still, they signed.

Now, as our Independence Day approaches, I am reminded that acts very similar to those our Founding Fathers took are taking place today, nearly everywhere we look. We are living in truly historic times. If this is not apparent now, I believe it will be quite clear down the road, when we have the benefit of hindsight.

Just days ago, after weeks and months of peaceful demonstrations that came to be known as the Cedar Revolution, the people of Lebanon concluded their first meaningful parliamentary elections in decades. Several months ago, on January 30, despite death threats from terrorist thugs, Iraq held its first free elections in more than 30 years. In the Ukraine, voters refused to accept the false outcome of rigged elections, and forced a second vote that truly reflected the will of Ukrainians. In October 2004, Afghanistan also held free and fair elections. In February, I noted that even Saudi Arabia voluntarily held municipal elections (as limited and imperfect as they were).

There are more countries I could mention, but I think the point is clear. The bell of freedom and democracy has been rung, and dictators across the world have taken notice. An idea has been set in motion, and it is gaining momentum. It is the idea that each man, woman and child is born with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Millions of people across the world have absorbed this idea and have begun to demand and exercise these rights for themselves.

With all that has been accomplished, there is still much more to do. Democratic governments and institutions in Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and other places are only precariously balanced. These nations are just taking their first steps toward democratic societies, and the paths are unmarked. Each path will be different. However, the beauty of self-determination is just that – the ability for a nation to blaze its own trail, to decide for itself the best way to meet its needs. The journey will be difficult, but few things worth achieving are ever easy.

These new democracies today are truly inspiring and reaffirming. In a way, these peaceful revolutions across the world brought us closer to the great men who founded the United States of America. More than 200 years after the United States was created in an act of conscientious defiance of oppression, we are now privileged to witness the same phenomenon again, from a different point of view. True to our heritage and our beliefs, Americans can be proud of the role we have played in unleashing the light of democracy in what were some very dark places.

This year, as you celebrate Independence Day, I encourage you to take a look at the world around us and appreciate the blessings secured by our forefathers. Many millions of people are discovering for the first time the freedom Americans have enjoyed for generations, even centuries. What we have requires struggle and suffering to attain and maintain. Now, Americans have come full-circle, sacrificing with, and encouraging, those who seek the same goal of the American Revolution: to ring the bell of freedom and liberty. This July 4th, let freedom ring.

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