Wicker Honors Founders’ Wisdom

Declaration of Independence Center Teaches Timeless American Principles

November 6, 2023

President Ronald Reagan famously said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” He was right. Our nation remains free because Americans have continually chosen to remain true to our founding principles. This month, I gathered with educators, students, and hundreds of interested citizens to celebrate those ideals at the University of Mississippi. The Declaration of Independence Center will help us examine our nation’s core values through academic disciplines like economics, law, history, and political science. Next year, it will enroll its first students in a minor dedicated to Freedom Studies.

Founding Principles are Essential Today

Our Constitution is the longest-lasting governing document in the world, and students at Ole Miss will be asked to explore its timeless ideas that we still need today. They will learn that though we take these principles for granted, they were revolutionary when first written. Our Founders knew this, which is why they included a Latin phrase meaning “new order of the ages” on our Great Seal. Our founding values – rights coming from our Creator that cannot be taken away – ushered in a new order that helped spread freedom from coast-to-coast. They continue to make our country the most prosperous and diverse nation in history.

These students will learn that these principles may be old, but they are timeless. They have not gone out of date even though our world has changed dramatically since our founding.

Center Teaches Full American Story

I offer my heartfelt thanks to Chancellor Boyce and Dr. Steven Skultety for their vision, leadership, and courage which led to the creation of this center. That it would take courage to establish a college minor in the Declaration of Independence is a testimony to its importance.

On many college campuses, left-wing narratives are distorting students’ views of America. Young people should grapple with the full complexity of our country, its mistakes and successes. Our founders created a system in which the United States could come closer to a perfect union. That is our legacy. Too many students are hearing only about the faults in America’s story.

In recent days, we have seen the painful results of this incomplete understanding of history. Denying American values has warped many students’ response to current events. As our ally Israel fights back against Hamas terror attacks, anti-Semitic protests are erupting at dozens of American universities. But instead of decrying the brutality of Hamas, many activists question Israel’s right to defend its freedom.

Taking Up the Mantle of Freedom

In Congress, I work to protect our freedoms at home and abroad. That has driven me to support legislation that limits government overreach and increases military strength. I fight to remove burdensome small business regulations and to protect religious liberty. As a leader on the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am focused on equipping men and women in uniform. To that end, I introduced the MERIT Act. This bill would force the Pentagon to focus on individual merit, not group identity, when promoting soldiers.

Our service members put everything on the line for our country, but we all have a role to play in keeping freedom from extinction. Higher education is a good place to start. I am grateful that Mississippi students are cracking open old books and exploring the principles our Founders conceived of centuries ago. I call on these young people to pick up the mantle of freedom in their own generation.