236 years ago a very brave gathering of men pledged their reputations, their fortunes and their lives on the line for a principle: that men were meant to govern themselves, that all men were equal and that they had the right to pursue a life of liberty and happiness. Looking back on that long ago decision and knowing the outcome of the Revolutionary War, knowing the greatness our country has risen to in the years since, it's easy to dismiss the incredibly brave thing that those men undertook. America may be stumbling today under crushing debt and the threat of terrorism, but it is still the freest and best that the world has ever known. We still have the resources to triumph and we are more resilient than ever. Our diversity is our strength, celebrate it. Instead of grumbling about what you don't have, think instead of all the freedoms you do have. And while you are enjoying those burgers and ribs, downing sweating bottles of beer, watching parades and marveling at the wonder of fireworks, remember the cost of your freedom to do so. Remember the Patriots who started it all and especially remember all those who've fought and died over the past 236 years to preserve the freedoms you take for granted every day.
I'd like to leave you with a quote from Adlai Stevenson from a speech given in 1952: "(Patriotism) is a sense of national responsibility which will enable America to remain master of her power -- to walk with it in serenity and wisdom, with self-respect and the respect of mankind; a patriotism that puts country ahead of self; a patriotism which is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime. These are words that are easy to utter, but this is a mighty assignment. For it is often easier to fight for principles than to live up to them."