Despite differences, celebrate with gusto

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 4, 2002

The United States is 226 years old today. Happy Birthday, America.

Over those 226 years, we have grown into the most powerful and respected nation on the planet. Millions of people throughout world dream of living in the United States. Only a privileged segment of the world population gets to experience what it is like to be an American.

This is a day to celebrate being an American. This is a day to eat a hot dog, barbecue, and enjoy fireworks.

What we have here is simply the best way of life in the history of mankind. What is important to remember is that none of it has come without struggle. We have had to fight wars to earn this way of life and we have managed to defeat all who have opposed us.

The quality of life that exists in America isn’t something that just happened or continues to &uot;just happen.&uot; Rather it is the direct by-product of a commitment to the principles of success and the values of Western culture.

We believe in education, justice, law and order, freedom of religion, and the free enterprise system. To continue for another 226 years, we must stick close to these values. They are what set us apart from the rest of the world.

We often don’t agree about what our governing values should be or how they should be expressed. This debate is healthy – to a point. What we have to guard against is becoming a divided nation that focuses on small partisan fights. We have to able to see the big picture.

If we need an example of what not to do, we often can observe how less successful nations handle their affairs. For example, it would be a setback for the United States to remove references to God from its currency and its pledge of allegiance. Changes like this take us away from what makes us great and moves us closer to failed nations like the Soviet Union.

On this July 4, celebrate being an American with gusto and pride. There is no other citizenship that is more precious than to be a citizen of the country we live in.