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Be thankful we live in land of free
In the pulpit
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For Americans, the Fourth of July is a time to look back — and look up. On Independence Day, we take a break from our busy schedules to appreciate the blessings of freedom and liberty — the noble values upon which our nation was built. We look back with gratitude at our founding fathers’ vision. We appreciate the courage of those who have protected our freedoms.
While we celebrate and enjoy ourselves Monday, countless men and women still are engaged in battle thousands of miles away. They’re fighting to ensure America still can wave her flag of freedom.
To our men and women in uniform — in this country and around the world — we commend you for your unselfish service.
Whether they’re in Iraq, Afghanistan, other foreign nations or right here in the United States, we salute our troops for guarding our precious freedoms.
It has been 235 amazing years since that day in July 1776 when this country, the United States of America, received her independence from England. It was a tense time for the young English colonies that had taken root in America. Philadelphia, Pa., where the Declaration of Independence was signed, was no exception.
The Declaration of Independence was adopted and signed in the late morning hours of July 4, 1776 by John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress. At that time, church bells throughout Philadelphia rang out, announcing the independence of the new nation, the United States of America.  
This historic document, the Declaration of Independence, declared, in part, that “these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.” People were free at last — free from a country they felt did not have their best interests at heart.
While the writers and signers of the document could have been killed or severely punished, they did not let that threat deter them. Thomas Jefferson, who later became this country’s third president and died July 4, 1826, was the principal author. These brave men were not afraid; it was a time of victory and jubilation.
Today, Independence Day is a federal holiday that commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. This holiday commonly is associated with flag displays, fireworks, parades, barbecues, family reunions, class reunions, picnics, political speeches and ceremonies, concerts, baseball games and many other events celebrating the United States’ history, government and traditions.
As the American flag waves majestically over our Fourth of July festivities, we must never forget what it stands for. It represents the greatest nation on Earth. It has been carried into battle for centuries. The American flag is placed on the graves of our honored dead, who fought so ours could remain a free nation. The stars and stripes fly high during peace times and times of conflict.
Independence Day fireworks displays often are accompanied by patriotic songs such as “The Star Spangled Banner” (our national anthem), “God Bless America,” “America the Beautiful,” “My Country ’Tis of Thee,” “This Land is Your Land” and “Stars and Stripes Forever.” We hold our hands over our hearts as we sing the national anthem, which demonstrates patriotism and deep love for America.
As we proudly display flags, sing patriotic songs, enjoy family time and celebrate this holiday, our spirits should be high and our hearts full of pride as we honor and remember those who have made sacrifices for our freedom.
We live in a country free of the oppressions that other nations struggle with. We should not take our freedom for granted because it is costly. Many young men and women paid dearly so that we could have the freedom we enjoy on the Fourth of July and every day. We live in the United States of America, where we can freely voice our opinions and vote for our leaders without the fear of being silenced or killed. These are very good reasons why we should never take our freedoms for granted. On this Independence Day, let’s thank God that we live in the land of the free.

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