July 4 is, or ought to be, more than another holiday in which we indulge ourselves with food, drink and in this case, fireworks. It is, more than any other day, a celebration of the principles that founded and have sustained America for 228 years.

The idea of principles and eternal truths seems to have escaped our attention as we focus more on ourselves and less on the corporate good.

"General welfare," the founders put it in the Preamble to the Constitution, which was, itself, a product of the Declaration.

Perhaps no finer insight into the true meaning of the Declaration has ever been expressed than on July 5, 1926, on our nation's 150th anniversary.

The unlikely figure of President Calvin Coolidge (search) delivered a speech that got to the heart of the Declaration and of the nation, itself. He spoke of re-establishing "old theories and principles, which time and the unerring logic of events have demonstrated to be sound." 

Too often, today, we discard the old in favor of the new, even when the new has yet to prove itself, as the old has done.

Coolidge continued: "Three very definite proposition were set out in its Preamble regarding the nature of mankind and therefore of government. These were the doctrine that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, and that therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed."

Coolidge argued that the Declaration is profoundly a spiritual document, the result of the religious teachings of the previous period of Jonathan Edwards (search) and George Whitfield (search).

And then he said this: "Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our declaration will perish. We can not continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause."

Is our present social, political and international turmoil, a result of neglecting and abandoning the cause for which our founders pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor, not to mention all of the wars fought to preserve our freedoms?

It is a question every American must ask. But it should be asked on this July 4 and it should be answered properly if we are to celebrate many more such years with liberty and justice for all.

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Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. He joined Fox News Channel in 1997 as a political contributor. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America" is available in bookstores now. Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribune.com.