For Americans, the Fourth of July is a very special day.
It’s an annual opportunity to spend time with our family and friends…
to attend backyard barbeques and patriotic parades…
and to marvel at the sights and sounds of fireworks on a warm summer night.
But more than that, the Fourth of July is a time to celebrate the birth of our nation and the triumph of our ideals.
It’s an occasion to recall the story of our nation’s founding...
to reflect upon our shared heritage and values…
and to give thanks for the freedom we are all so fortunate to enjoy.
Today, we remember the words of Thomas Jefferson who, in the Declaration of Independence, wrote:
“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.”
This foundational principle—that human beings derive their rights from God, rather than from the State, or any other source—is what made America different.
It is what compelled the framers to draft our Constitution so that sovereignty rested in “We the people.”
It is what prevented our government from acting arbitrarily or without the consent of the governed.
And it is what continues to safeguard our freedoms today.
But the natural freedom of man also creates the need to maintain a moral focus in our lives.
After all, the proper functioning of a self-governing nation depends, in large part, upon the virtuousness of its people.
A government of, for and by the people, requires much from the people.
So it’s altogether fitting that the Fourth of July falls this year on a Sunday—
a day of piety, prayer and worship…
a day when we are challenged to live moral and faithful lives…
and a day when we are reminded of the central role that God plays in the life of our country.
This year’s holiday is meaningful for another reason, as well: it comes at a time when our nation is at war.
In an important sense, the American Revolution has not yet ended.
The great enterprise upon which we embarked 228 years ago continues to this day.
Even as I speak, halfway around the world, American patriots carry on the cause—defending our freedom against the tyranny of terror.
Their victory will be our victory, and a victory for freedom all over the world.
So this year, as we observe Independence Day…
Let us remember that we are a special nation with a unique history and an important purpose.
Let us give thanks for the many blessings of liberty bestowed upon us by Almighty God.
Let us be mindful of the sacrifice of those who have fought and died so that we might be free.
And let us celebrate the inevitable triumph of American ideals: of independence over slavery, democracy over tyranny, and freedom over terror.
God bless you, God Bless this Commonwealth, and God Bless the United States of America.