As we gathered with friends and family on this Fourth of July, we came together to celebrate 242 years of Independence. 

While grilling hamburgers and hotdogs and watching the fireworks have become a Fourth of July tradition, we must take a moment to remember the reason we are able to gather together for such a joyful occasion. It is due to an amazing event that took place in the hot summer of 1776 when a group of ordinary men from differing backgrounds labored to produce one of the greatest documents of all time.

For years prior, Americans had been struggling with the British Empire for the freedom to govern themselves. Their desire for self-governance led to consequences difficult to imagine by today’s standards. Trade had been cut off leaving many businesses to fold. Homes were burned and livestock was destroyed. Entire towns were ravaged. At every turn, they faced an army that was better-supplied and numerically superior. All they had was an unorganized, poorly fed group of volunteers.

Despite their obstacles, however, they were strengthened in their belief that they had a right to govern themselves. They had a right to freedom. The delegates to the Second Continental Congress understood this and sought to articulate it to the entire world in such a way that it would not be misunderstood. The concept they described was revolutionary. The words they wrote are feared by tyrants to this day:

“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.”

Today you and I are the beneficiaries of the selfless sacrifices of these early patriots. We stand united by the belief that all men are created equal and we pass that belief onto our children and grandchildren. We give our consent to be governed by laws that are meant to secure the freedoms for which those early patriots so valiantly fought.

The patriots of the revolution faced many struggles throughout the war that most believed they could not win. But it was their commitment to freedom and the God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that enabled them to forge ahead each day.

As we celebrate this Independence Day, let us remember the example of those early patriots who committed themselves to the ideals of freedom and liberty. Let us endeavor to leave a legacy of commitment to freedom for our children and grandchildren. I wish everyone a happy Independence Day, and may God bless you, and, as always, may God bless America.