In a letter to his wife in 1776, John Adams predicted that great anniversary celebrations marked with “pomp and parade” would take place each year on the Second of July, the day the Continental Congress voted to declare independence from Britain. While he was right about the celebrations of freedom that have taken place for well over two hundred years, the date we all know is the Fourth of July – the date the Declaration of Independence was formally adopted by the Congress.
When our Founding Fathers signed their names to the Declaration of Independence, they could not have known how this experiment in self-government would unfold. What they were confident of, however, is that liberty is an inherent, God-given right, not one granted by any form of government.
This weekend, as we prepare to mark Independence Day, we honor and remember our Founders’ vision of a great and free nation. We also honor the men and women who came before us to pave the way for the causes of freedom and liberty. So, in the midst of family BBQs, parades, and fireworks commemorating our nation’s independence, I ask you to take a moment to pay tribute to our veterans and the brave men and women in uniform who serve today. Our service members fighting enemies abroad as well as our law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency responders working to keep us safe here at home, deserve our greatest respect and sincere thanks.
Independence was not something that was won on a single summer day in 1776. Rather it was a hard fought movement by those who thought liberty was worth standing up for amid a sea of opposition. That’s the spirit of America, and one that prevails today. As our fortieth President Ronald Reagan so fittingly said, “I’ve never felt more strongly that America’s best days and democracy’s best days lie ahead. We’re a powerful force for good. With faith and courage, we can perform great deeds and take freedom’s next step. And we will.”
Bob Goodlatte represents Virginia’s Sixth District in Congress.