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Every year on the Fourth of July we celebrate the freedoms we enjoy as a nation. This year we stand, as we have for many years, as the greatest nation in the world. This power was neither inherited nor given to us; it was originally won when America was merely a loosely allied collection of colonies with no real army and few resources. But the power of the idea of freedom was so strong that we overcame the world’s greatest army and most powerful nation at the time.

Since that day, we declared our independence as colonies and became a nation. As a nation, we expanded to encompass one end of our continent to the other. We stood for freedoms within our borders and outside of our borders and when the world saw that people could be free, the world itself began to adopt freedom.

The freedoms that we enjoy in our everyday lives and that we celebrate in communities throughout the country on July 4th were borne from our nation’s independence and proclaimed by a single document. This document declared that the people have the freedom to practice their faith, to speak and share different ideas, and to organize their government the way they choose. It said that when government is not bound to the people, it is no longer legitimate or just.

Despite the challenges we face – tough economic times and an increasingly dangerous world around us – our bond to one another and our free nation is an unstoppable force.

As most of us enjoy a long weekend of celebrations and cookouts in the sun with family and friends, let us be proud not only because we are Americans, but also because of what America is and stands for. Let us always honor those who sacrifice and defend our great country. Let us hold our flag high and place our hands firmly over our hearts when we recite our pledge, a pledge to the very idea of freedom and liberty that has made this country the greatest in the world.

May God bless everyone and have a wonderful Independence Day.