Today, many of us will fly our country's flag. Some will watch a parade or fireworks. Others will enjoy a summer holiday with friends and family.
However Americans spend the Fourth of July, we should ponder the benefits of freedom, how best to serve its cause, and the red, white, and blue symbol that reminds us of our rights as a nation.
This is a day to celebrate our strengths, not to focus on our shortcomings. That we are an imperfect union is inarguable. But what binds us as Americans is far stronger than what divides us.
Our Founding Fathers, 236 years ago today, put their lives on the line when they signed the Declaration of Independence. They understood that our common values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness bound us in a way that could not be broken.
Vigorous disagreements would test Americans' resolve over the years. But they could never overcome our collective will to preserve and protect a nation forged in freedom and unity.
American independence always has been worth fighting for. It always will be, no matter how difficult the terrain. The storms we weather -- military, political, ideological -- can be intense and ugly. The quest for the power to substitute partisanship for the public interest is fierce.
While the country remains mired in war, it struggles to sustain economic recovery at home and solvency in government at all levels. Discourse is too often uncivil, and political compromise is dismissed by extremists as cowardice.
The challenges Americans face this July 4th are great, as were those that confronted the Founders who bravely established this land of the free. Like them, we know that our strength lies in our united embrace of the self-evident truths and hard-won inalienable rights we cherish.