"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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..." - Declaration of Independence
Independence Day is more than just a date on a calendar - the nationwide observance of this holiday is America's way of expressing our commitment to the ideals which make our country great. This special day also is a time to reflect on the great step our country took 244 years ago when a group of patriots declared their countrymen free.
On July 4, 1776, we claimed our independence from Britain, and the American republic was born. Since then we have become the longest lasting Constitutional Republic in the history of the world. This benchmark was not set by chance or accident. Because of the character of the people who call America home, our country has weathered international conflicts, internal strife, and economic booms and busts.
This Independence Day, millions of our neighbors will join together to celebrate our nation's independence. As we attend parades, backyard cookouts, and firework displays, I hope everyone takes the opportunity to remember the enormous sacrifices of those who gave their lives to protect our freedoms and those who defend them to this day.
Freedom is not free. We must always keep in mind our civil liberties and freedoms set down in the Declaration of Independence which are sacred to Americans are not held in the same esteem to those who loathe the ideals of freedom and equality and seek every opportunity to weaken our resolve. In many areas of the world, democracy and the rights of individuals are concepts far from realization. As we have unfortunately learned, freedom's enemies will use any means or method necessary to defeat liberty.
Our military men and women who engage these terrorists do a tremendous job in what can only be considered the most difficult and dangerous of situations. We need to focus on supporting their efforts and providing them with the resources they need. Recently, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told Congress it must act on critical troop funding by July 4th or run the risk of disrupting military operations.
Unfortunately, this process has been slowed due to partisan wrangling and attempts to add billions of dollars in new, extraneous funding which has nothing to do with our military or its personnel. This is unfortunate, to say the least. Defending America requires the necessary investments in people and technologies to ensure safety and effectiveness. I remain committed to passing this important bill without further delay.
Our country is an example of freedom and democracy for the world. Our enemies should know our commitment to liberty extends far beyond fireworks and flag waving. Preserving and encouraging liberty depends upon understanding those "truths" laid out by Thomas Jefferson and other patriots so long ago. They are the foundations on which this great country was built, and we should be dedicated to preserving these principles.
As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day, let us remember the sacrifices which have been made for our freedom, while renewing our commitment to those who defend our lives and liberties to this day.