Independence Day celebrates the ideals which forged our nation— ideals published more than two centuries ago in the document that declared our separation from England. For generations, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as outlined in the Declaration of Independence have formed the genetic code of the United States. This code transcends the lack of vision and narrow minds that throughout our history have misinterpreted, limited or politicized it.
On the Fourth of July and always, we do well to honor the brave men and women who protect and defend our freedoms. We also do well to reflect on the moments when ignorance and pride have caused us to disregard our values.
The core of our national character is not found draped in camouflage and marching in grand parades. The core of our national character is found at barbecues and picnics, in parks and beaches, sitting on wooden benches or ragged blankets, gazing up at a bright, color-speckled sky.
The core of our national character reaches out in kindness and compassion to those who seek freedom, to those who are persecuted or lost, or broken— to those for whom the desire for acceptance is still a dream.
The genetic code of the United States was written more than two centuries ago and is not celebrated in a show of tanks and guns, but in the friendship, fellowship and hope of all people who desire liberty— whether or not they are lucky enough to gaze upward at a bright, color-speckled sky!