When our Founding Fathers signed their names to the Declaration of Independence, they could not have known how this experiment of self-government would unfold. What they were confident of, however, is that liberty is an inherent, God-given right, not one that originates from a King or other form of government.
Just a few days ago as we celebrated the Fourth of July with barbeques, parades, and fireworks, I was reminded that this day represents much more. It is a celebration of the birth of America, a time to reflect upon the many blessings of liberty, and a remembrance of those who have valiantly fought to protect this nation from the very oppression experienced by our Founding Fathers. It is also a time to remember, as Thomas Jefferson is believed to have said, that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. This still rings true some 200 years later.
Two hundred and thirty-six years ago, merchants, lawyers, farmers, educators, soldiers, physicians, and pastors gathered as members of the Second Continental Congress. Risking charges of treason, they had the courage of their convictions to pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor so that a new nation might be born. The document they adopted, the Declaration of Independence, is a symbol of freedom from tyranny and an outward expression of the certain unalienable rights found at the bedrock of America -- Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Throughout America's history, there have been many who have made great sacrifices to defend freedom and democracy. We know that freedom is not free. Democracy and our very way of life are under siege both at home and abroad by those who do not believe in a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We must remain vigilant against any attempts to stray from our Founding Fathers' vision of freedom.
While we face many challenges as a nation, we meet them head on with the confidence and convictions instilled by the generations of Americans who came before us. A true display of the American spirit was witnessed just this past week in our own backyard. Volunteers from communities across the region joined together, neighbor helping neighbor, to clean up after a destructive storm swept through the Sixth District.
As we celebrate America's independence, let us also take a moment to pay tribute to our veterans and the brave men and women in uniform who continue to serve the cause of freedom today. Our service members fighting enemies abroad and our law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency responders working to keep us safe here at home, deserve our utmost respect and sincere thanks.
May God bless all those who serve, and may He continue to bless the United States of America.