“We on this continent should never forget that men first crossed the Atlantic not to find soil for their ploughs but to secure liberty for their souls.”

 – Robert J. McCracken

Independence Day is fast approaching and with all of the barbeques, hot dog eating contests, and, of course, fireworks going on, it can be easy to forget what it is we’re actually celebrating.  A couple hundred years ago, men and women desired a place where they could worship according to their own desires.  Fortunately for them, a new land had been discovered that was mostly uninhabited.  People of many differing religious beliefs travelled from Britain to America, seeking that religious freedom. 

While this new land provided the religious freedom they were looking for, they soon recognized other freedoms that were being denied them.  The primary one being that they lacked representation in their government.  They were expected to obey laws that they had no control over.  During a time of philosophy and enlightenment, many began to consider other possibilities for their government.

These desires led to the Declaration of Independence, a document written to separate the American colonies from the British government.  The approval of this document marked the beginning of a nation, a country where the people had a say in how they were governed and by whom. 

Such a declaration, of course, lead to war.  Many died in defense of the new nation, fighting for the right to govern themselves.  As we all know, they won, providing nearly unheard-of freedoms to their posterity, us! 

The United State of America has stood as a beacon of freedom for the world for the past three hundred years.  Despite an imperfect history, there is no denying that the many men and women who have served this country have provided us with many blessings and opportunities that people across the world have only dreamed of.

As you celebrate this week, we hope you take time to appreciate the many opportunities and freedoms available to you because of the sacrifice of many people throughout this nation’s history.  Despite political conflicts that can be prevalent in our society, we should cherish the fact that we have the right to play a role in our government, that we may worship according to our own consciences, and that we may share those opinions without fear of imprisonment or other punishment.  Happy Independence Day!