Whether you spend this Fourth of July picnicking, swimming, boating, enjoying a parade, attending a community celebration, watching a fireworks display or just plain loafing, there should be at least a brief time to pause and reflect on this country's enduring experiment in constitutional democracy.
On this anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, Americans are troubled by uncertainty and anxiety over pressing problems at home and abroad. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue. The 9/11 terrorism remains a vivid though receding memory. There is anxiety over a persistent sluggishness of our economy.
But in the long march of American history - through war and peace, prosperity and economic troubles - there always have been times that caused some doubters to lose faith in this nation. Yet, the system survives and quite frankly is doing very well.
That is the result of the remarkable vision of those Founding Fathers who provided a constitutional government designed not to serve only particular groups or special interests, but a people. Those founders took the pains to disperse power and safeguard freedoms. They provided rights to worship, to speak, to assemble, to assure an unfettered press, to privacy, to vote, to work without peonage, to make a profit, to secure a government that is both referee and protector.
These are the rights of all people in this free land. When any individual fails to accept those concepts or seeks to destroy them, an erosion of the principles upon which this nation was built occurs.
Fortunately, Americans have been successful in overcoming all past challenges to the extraordinary constitutional system devised more than two centuries ago. It remains robust.
As the 21st century unfolds, this nation would benefit from a renaissance of patriotism. On this Independence Day, all Americans should renew their commitment to preservation of the heritage of 1776. This is an appropriate day to reflect on the principles that unite the nation. All too often a focus on those divisions that exist in our society obscures the shared values that are not in dispute.
For centuries people have come to this land with little or nothing, seeking to build better lives. It should be a source of pride to all Americans that the United States continues to be a beacon of hope that still inspires those people everywhere who prize liberty.
Happy Independence Day.