Being an American means something different for each and every one of us. Yes, we all enjoy certain rights as United States citizens, but we each have our own unique experiences that shape our American identity.

Perhaps you are a member of the Armed Forces, a first-generation immigrant, a civil servant, or even all three. The United States of America is a nation bursting with diversity, and thanks to the freedoms that we enjoy, it is full of people following their own path to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Together, we make up the American public, a group as heterogeneous as they come, but also closely tied by conviction in our nation’s founding values.

On Independence Day, we will have the chance to celebrate this shared conviction as we commemorate the birth of our homeland. July 4th, 1776 is perhaps the most important date in U.S. history. On this date, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, signaling its official break with the monarchy of Great Britain.

Every subsequent advancement in American democracy grew out of this momentous event: the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, abolition, women’s suffrage, the Civil Rights movement, and so on. Thomas Jefferson’s enduring words still ring true as we embrace the tenets of freedom, equality and democratic representation in the modern age.

These are weighty topics to ponder on a holiday known for fireworks, barbeques and family fun. Still, it doesn’t hurt to remember the origins of our Independence Day. We are so lucky to live in a country where our liberties are protected and our diversity is valued. In a world where, for so many, freedom is just a concept, we should not take for granted our right to pursue the American Dream. Please join me in personally thanking our past and present servicemen and servicewomen and in celebrating this incredible gift of liberties on the Fourth of July.


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