Celebrate your independence this July 4th

This weekend we will be celebrating our nation's independence. Independence Day recognizes the home of the brave and land of the free on the birthday of the United States of America and the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. It's a day of picnics, parades, a night of concerts and fireworks, and a reason to fly the American flag. But what does "independence" really mean to each of us today?

Is it just an extra long holiday weekend full of fun and fireworks or do we take time to appreciate the sacrifices of our forefathers remembering their bravery, service and commitment to fight for and expand freedoms for all Americans? The freedoms we enjoy today continue to be reaffirmed and renewed throughout our 235 year history through wars, civil strife, and political victories. Our nation continues to evolve and redefine the word "independence," but like most things in this country there always seems to be more than one side to its definition.

Is "independence," merely the fact that we control our own borders and are not governed by a foreign nation or is "independence" more about the freedoms provided by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights through our society and culture here in America? While the US is far from perfect our nation is stilled envied around the world as thousands flock to our borders annually and nations around the globe attempt to emulate what's been created here.

As a nation of free people the definitions of "freedom" and "independence," will continue to seek new limits. Last week the state of New York gave gay and lesbian couples the legal right to marry. While many applaud that legislation, others are outraged at the actions of our elected officials. Does it uplift and provide a level standing for all committed couples or does it diminish the act of marriage between a man and a woman? Will religious institutions respect the decree of the state or will they refuse to conduct services for same sex couples? Public opinion and political correctness aside this new found freedom will be forced to undergo the test of time.

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