This week we celebrate the 236th year of American independence, purchased and defended with the blood of patriots.
We won our Revolution against all odds fighting, what at that time was, the greatest standing army and most powerful navy in the world.
The Spirit of Freedom was strong in the hardy souls who came to the New World to escape tyranny and the class system of the European monarchies, to found a government of the people, by the people and for the people, a place where a common man’s vote meant just as much as the aristocrat’s.
It had to be the will of Almighty God for there to be a United States of America, otherwise George Washington’s half starved, ill-equipped army would never have been victorious against the mighty redcoats.
From the hills of Tennessee, from the fishing villages of the Atlantic coastline, from Boston and New Orleans, from the swamps of South Carolina and the teeming streets of Baltimore they came, bringing their long rifles and their steel determination that this new nation would bow to no foreign power and that none but our own flag would fly above it.
America has always bred this kind of man, who sees his duty and does it. They did it at Guadalcanal, at Midway, in the skies over Tokyo, on the beaches of Normandy. In the Philippines and the sands of Iwo Jima.
They did it in the frozen mountains of Korea, the jungles of Vietnam and the deserts of Southwest Asia.
Some came home with empty sleeves and some with deep psychological wounds that changed the course of their lives. Some didn’t come home at all.
This Fourth of July as you enjoy your picnics and cookouts, as you take the family to the beach or slice the watermelon, I want to ask you a favor.
Will you take a few moments to remember and to remind the ones around you that the liberty which you celebrate on this very American holiday has been paid for by the blood of brave men and women who throughout the 236 years of our existence, have put their lives on the line, stood between you and the enemies that would like nothing better than destroying you, your family and the way of life you celebrate today?
And if you’re a praying person, would you offer up a prayer for those who remain in harms way, for the families who will forever have an empty place at the table, for those who patrol our skies, who guard our coasts and borders and those who stand ready to do battle on a moment’s notice?
In spite of the wrinkles and warts, in spite of the rough patches and uncertain times, we are still the greatest nation the world has ever known and in spite of our disagreements, under our different color skins, our diverse political philosophies and our ethnic backgrounds, we’re all Americans.
And I thank God for that fact.
Happy birthday, America and Americans!