"We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled ... declare that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, Free and Independent States."
With those words, a nation was born. A nation of God-given rights and responsibilities. A nation of patriots who because of their bravery and honor have bestowed upon us a solemn duty to protect, defend and celebrate those shared values of liberty and freedom that make us all Americans.
On July 4, 1776, our Founding Fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to each other. Today every person who enjoys the privileges of American citizenship can live secure in the knowledge that no tyrant, no despot and no dictatorial oligarch can take away our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
For the young, Independence Day means family picnics, swimming at the local pool, a parade through downtown complete with fire engines and floats and spectacular fireworks. There is nothing but fun on the Fourth of July when you're a child. For adults, we have this fun, but the day is much more. We not only celebrate quality time with family, but we remember how that pivotal day in 1776 brought us the freedom that we defend today both at home and abroad.
Too often, as we struggle to make sense of war and terrorism, we highlight our differences, those things that set us apart, and we forget to celebrate our commonalities. From the French Revolution to the Arab Spring, across the globe, hundreds of millions of people have been inspired by our Declaration of Independence. They have thrown off the yoke of oppression and autocracy and have embraced the freedom and liberty to which you and I were privileged to be born.
The Declaration of Independence has a mere 1,458 words, including the signatures of men like our very own Button Gwinnett and George Walton. Its words are few, but its power is unparalleled in human history.
Wherever you are this 4th of July, whether at a small town parade or a family gathering, my wish for you is to take a few minutes to read this ground-breaking Declaration.
As challenging as events may be in the world today, America is strong. We are firmly rooted in the solid foundation of the Declaration of Independence. In those pages we see the bravery of our cherished past, the honor of our present, and our hope for the future.
I wish you and your family a blessed Independence Day. God bless America.
U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, serves on the House Budget Committee and the House Rules Committee.