From Bill Bennett’s American Patriot’s Almanac we have this entry for today, 5 July:
“The things of the spirit come first”
On July 5, 1926, in a speech in Philadelphia commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, President Calvin Coolidge reminded Americans that “in its main features the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document.”
Our forefathers came to certain conclusions and decided upon certain courses of action which have been a great blessing to the world. . . . They were a people who came under the influence of a great spiritual development and acquired a great moral power. No other theory is adequate to explain or comprehend the Declaration of Independence. It is the product of the spiritual insight of the people. We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshiped.