Celebrating today I am struck by the courage, wisdom and idealism of our founders about this time of year in 1776.
Courage because they must have known that simply declaring independence didn't necessarily make it so. They were fully aware that gaining independence would involve military conflict with one of the strongest armies on the face of the earth.
Wisdom because the principles upon which are nation are founded are timeless: all men (and women) are created equal. Giving the people a voice was at the heart of what has made our country strong.
Idealism because, again, they were willing to entrust this nation to the people. Certainly the type of democracy established made allowances for representation of states and of people, they were still willing to entrust the future to what people said at the ballot box, and not through force of arms.
Freedom is a wonderful concept. Let us celebrate our freedom this day, and also remember that freedom does not come without cost or sacrifice. Many have paid a dear proice to protect and earn the freedoms we enjoy.
So let us never forget that with freedom comes responsibility – they go hand-in-hand. It is not only appropriate to enjoy our freedoms today, but to accept the responsibility of handing them over to future generations.
As the founders said at the conclusion of the Declaration of Independence, "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."