Good morning. Laura and I wish all Americans a happy Fourth of July weekend. I look forward to celebrating Independence Day with the people of Morgantown, West Virginia.
On the Fourth of July, we remember the vision and conviction of America's Founders. We remember the ideals of liberty that led men from 13 colonies to gather in Philadelphia and pen a declaration of self-evident truths. And we remember the extraordinary personal courage that made their efforts a success.
Doctor Benjamin Rush said that signing the Declaration of Independence was "like signing your own death warrant." He signed it anyway — right above his fellow Pennsylvania delegate, Benjamin Franklin.
On Independence Day, we are also mindful that the promises of the Declaration have been secured by the service and sacrifice of every generation. America's first defenders were mostly farmers, artisans, and shopkeepers who waged a desperate fight for independence. Our Union was preserved through the costly battles of the Civil War — including one at Vicksburg that ended on Independence Day, 1863. And we live in freedom because Americans prevailed in the hard-fought struggles of the 20th century, from the Marne and Normandy to Iwo Jima and Inchon
Bay. America is home to 25 million military veterans — and we will always be grateful for their unselfish courage.
Today, a new generation of Americans is defending our freedom against determined enemies. At posts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world, our men and women in uniform are taking the fight to the terrorists overseas, so that we do not have to face the terrorists here at home. And by freeing millions from oppression, our armed forces are redeeming a universal principle of the Declaration that all are created equal, and all are meant to be free. Those who serve today are taking their rightful place among the greatest generations that have worn our nation's uniform.
The burden of war falls especially hard on military families, and I thank them for the support they give our troops in their vital work. Some of America's finest men and women have given their lives in the war on terror, and we remember them on Independence Day. We pray for the families who have lost a loved one in freedom's cause. And we know that the best way to honor the lives that have been given in this struggle is to complete the mission, so we will stay in the fight until the fight is won.
In this time of testing, all our troops and their families can know that the American people are behind them.
On this Fourth of July weekend, I ask every American to find a way to thank men and women defending our freedom — by flying the flag, sending letters to our troops in the field, and helping the military family down the street. The Department of Defense has set up a website: AmericaSupportsYou.mil. You can go there to learn about private efforts in your own community. At this time when we celebrate our freedom, we will stand with the men and women who defend us all.
In the summer of 1776, John Adams called the American Revolution "the most complete, unexpected, and remarkable of any in the history of nations." And 229 years later, history has proved him right. The Fourth of July is a day to be proud of our heritage as freedom's home and defender. It is a day to be confident in the future, because the spirit of our founders still shapes the conscience of our country. Above all, it is a day to give thanks to God for his many blessings on America, and for the privilege to call ourselves citizens of this special land.
I hope all Americans enjoy a memorable and safe Independence Day celebration. Thank you for listening.