"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
These most remembered words from the document and the event we celebrate today define us as a nation. They might be considered our national credo.
Over the past 236 years we have argued and even come to blows over how exactly that statement affects our notion of freedom and liberty, but through it all we have endured as a shining example of self government most of the rest of the world looks to as a model.
And yet, so many of us take our democracy, our freedoms, for granted. When the electorate is called upon to answer the call and participate in this great democratic experiment, more than half of us decline.
"Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country." Franklin Roosevelt's reminder that this is a government of, by and for the people drives home the notion that without the participation of the electorate, elections are diminished and the candidates who ultimately govern are diminished.
We will celebrate all that is good in this great nation today, and culminate the event with the thunder and flashes reminiscent of our birth under fire.
These United States have endured foreign attack, civil war and countless internal squabbles, lurching from one crisis to the next. But through it all the strength of our resolve and that simple statement of belief has carried us through.