“The war was a longer, far more arduous, and more painful struggle than later generations would understand or sufficiently appreciate. … The year 1776, celebrated as the birth year of the nation … was for those who carried the fight for independence forward a year of all-too-few victories, of sustained suffering … as they would never forget, but also of phenomenal courage and bedrock devotion to country, and that too, they would never forget.” -- David McCullough, 1776

Every year on the fourth of July, Americans gather together to enjoy backyard barbeques, parades and fireworks, and to celebrate our country’s independence. We gather to express pride in our nation, and we gather to remind our children and grandchildren of the sacrifices made by previous generations, so we could have the opportunity to live in the freest and greatest nation in the world.

With the birth of our country 235 years ago, our world changed forever. But in the years leading up to 1776, the fight for freedom in America was anything but certain and suffered many setbacks. In those first months of the war, thousands of men left their homes and families to take up arms and fight for a cause they believed in. They risked all they had for the chance at a better life for themselves, their families and their fellow countrymen.

During those early days in our country’s history, General George Washington spurred his troops on by saying “perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages,” and the American patriots fighting alongside him proved him right.

With this same spirit of courage and sacrifice, we have an obligation to build upon our founding fathers’ vision of America – a land where “all men are created equal” and are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights … life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” 

America still stands as a land of opportunity today because of the enduring power of the ideals upon which our country was founded. As citizens, we have a duty to defend those freedoms that generations of Americans have given their lives to establish and protect. We have the responsibility to be good stewards of what we have been given so we can pass to the next generation the life we love and lead.

Today, our nation’s young men and women in uniform are still risking their lives to protect our own and to defend the principles we hold most dear. On this fourth of July, we honor these brave men and women, and we express our gratitude for their courage, dedication to duty, and love of country.

We thank God for giving us these patriots – and those who fought for our freedoms more than 200 years ago. We are blessed to live in a nation where individuals volunteer to defend our country and our way of life – no matter the cost. And today we stand committed to preserving this nation for the sake of the next generation – so they too can pursue the American dream with freedom and liberty.