More than two centuries ago, freedom seekers and enlightened minds instilled a spirit into a people oppressed by a ruling regime that ignored their best interests. History still shows that America's Independence Day stands as an international symbol of citizens uniting to cast off tyranny.
Our forefathers and leaders through the years spoke eloquently of the nation's birth in 1776 and our freedoms, still a shining icon in a world beset by turmoil and subjugation.
These are but a few of the inspirational and otherwise pointed remarks about our national holiday:
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it." -- Thomas Paine.
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Did you know? A Founding Father, Paine wrote the two most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution and historians note that he inspired the rebels in 1776 to declare independence from Britain.
"Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed -- else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die." -- President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a five-star general in the United States Army during World War II and Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe. He led the way to victory in Europe and North Africa. Thank a veteran and active-duty military for their service to country and freedom.
Did you know? Eisenhower authorized the establishment of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1957, launched the Interstate Highway System, and created the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which led to the Internet. Scholars rank Eisenhower as one of the greatest U.S. presidents. He will forever be a great American and great leader whose vision reverberates though the nation today.
"My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!" -- President Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father and principle author of the Declaration of Independence. As the nation's third president, he negotiated the acquisition of the vast Louisiana Territory from France (1803), doubling the size of the United States.
"Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves." -- President Abraham Lincoln, who led the nation in the abolishment of slavery but also is known for modernizing the economy and banking system, funding improvements to the nation's railroad infrastructure and supporting urbanization.
This next quote stands in stark contrast to some countries that celebrate nationalism with something more like oppression than freedom:
"You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism." -- Erma Bombeck, newspaper columnist beloved for her humorous take on American life.
For this Fourth of July, Americans will once again settle into the usual celebrations -- fireworks, parades, barbecues, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, political speeches and such.
Let's all be safe out there with fireworks -- and firearms. The height of reckless irresponsibility is shooting bullets into the night sky when those lead projectiles will fall to earth and possibly kill or maim someone. Keep the gun locked up and safe.
Be vigilant, too, as we're reminded that there are people around the world and in our midst who oppose the ideals that founded this country. We're on notice from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security that terrorists could be staging an attack in America this weekend. Law enforcement is asking for extra awareness and alertness in the wake of recent attacks in France, Kuwait and Tunisia that indicate an escalating threat to peace.
The freedoms we enjoy are the envy of much of the world, but the target of evil, too. History shows those forces fighting freedom only make America stronger.