The American experiment with democracy began 234 years ago with the enduring words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Those words remain a profound statement of our natural rights. And to this day, the United States of America is the freest and most prosperous nation in the world. The success of our nation is a testament to the timeless vision of our Founding Fathers.
As a Member of Congress, I am charged with shaping the laws of the land. Freedom is the foundation of my public policy. I do not mean freedom in the base sense of license. I mean the noble freedom to become and achieve whatever one’s heart and talents allow — the kind of freedom that our Declaration of Independence proclaims and our Constitution enshrines.
The courageous and revolutionary stand that our Founding Fathers took so many years ago paved the way for this son of immigrants from China and Thailand to one day serve in Congress. This fact is both profoundly humbling and inspiring. I take seriously my oath to “faithfully discharge the duties of the office.” I pledge to uphold this oath with honor and integrity. I am proud to represent Hawaii in Congress.
In its 51 years as the 50th state of the United States, Hawaii has established a vibrant culture, one which is unmistakably American yet distinctively individual. Like Hawaii, its Congressional delegation is bound in purpose and unity with the other 49 states yet must attend to the particular concerns of our island state. Balancing issues and concerns is part of this job. But my priority is Hawaii. “Hawaii First” is more than a motto. It is a value I strive to embody with every constituent that I meet, every bill that I write and every vote that I cast. A choice between mainland special interests and the best interests of Hawaii is no choice at all. I will always choose the people of Hawaii.
General Douglas MacArthur once said: “No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation.” Let us recommit ourselves, on the 234th birthday of this great nation, to doing all that we can to ensure that the America and Hawaii our children and grandchildren inherit is a freer, more secure and prosperous land.
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Charles K. Djou is an adjunct professor at Hawaii Pacific University. He is an Afghanistan war veteran and a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve. Djou served in the U.S. House, Honolulu City Council and Hawaii State House.