The Fourth of July gives us all a chance to reflect on our country and to take pride in our nation's enduring principles. It is the day on which the Declaration of Independence was ratified by exemplary visionaries who dared to create a new form of government and new laws for a new people. For the first time it was decided that every person is born with certain God-given rights and that government should have no powers of its own other than those granted to it by the people.

"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," is one of the most powerful statements of all time. Those words still ring loudly throughout the world today as America has taken its foundation of freedom and transformed it into the blueprint for the greatest nation on Earth.

But this freedom has not come without sacrifice. Countless men and women have given their lives on and off the battlefield for our freedoms and rights. Civil and international wars have been fought to expand those freedoms to all people. We still continue that fight today. We are a nation that celebrates our differences; we do not persecute because of them.

While we celebrate independence on the Fourth, we also celebrate our country's unity. After the recent terror attack in Orlando, the citizens of the United States stood together to show the world that we cannot be beaten down. Our nation--and our great state--was founded on a simple principle: "united we stand, divided we fall."

As we celebrate with our family and friends this holiday, let us keep in mind those principles of freedom, sacrifice, and unity. We are one nation, under God, and together we will continue to live the lives our founding fathers envisioned for the future of this great nation.

Be safe this holiday, keep your family and friends close, and lastly, God bless America.

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