A declaration made 239 years ago in Pennsylvania crafted with fewer than 1,500 words scrawled on a piece of parchment is the cornerstone of our identity as a country.
Independence - it's the only thing most of us know and what we take for granted most of all.
We live in a country - as a result of that Fourth of July declaration - that after achieving independence from the British Empire, went on to craft the constitution and 27 amendments to the constitution to ensure equal rights to all people living in our country.
Those rights include due process and freedom of speech. The 13th amendment abolished slavery, and the 19th established a woman's right to vote in the United States.
We have come a long way since the first Continental Congress signed and delivered the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. But do we realize what great duty we have to make it all worthwhile?
Despite the freedom not to participate that all apathetic Americans enjoy, we have an obligation to take our independence seriously and participate to ensure that we maintain our independence.
Recent events have only served to highlight how precious these rights and freedoms are. These events are also a reminder of how much constant tending, civil engagement, education and discourse it takes to maintain these. There is nothing accomplished by hiding our heads in the sand or pretending an issue does not exist. We need to be constantly building, constantly scrutinizing, constantly maintaining and constantly working to keep our nation moving forward.
This coming weekend, as you visit with family and take part in parades and other celebrations, remember why it is we celebrate this day. It's not just another holiday from work - though that is a bonus - it's a symbolic day in American history. On this day, more than 200 years ago our nation was born.