Across Nebraska on Independence Day, Nebraskans will perform annual traditions as they gather to watch fireworks, grill on the back porch, march in parades, participate in community-wide festivals, and share the holiday with family and friends. While these rituals may seem commonplace, they are at the heart of who we are as Nebraskans and Americans as we celebrate the 239th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
This day is not only an opportunity to spend time with our loved ones, but it is also an opportunity to reflect on and recall the significance of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. For the members of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1776, the signing of the Declaration was not a certain event. Even after it was drafted, the document was heavily debated and edited before representatives finally voted to approve the document on July 4th. The tireless work of the representatives who met in Independence Hall that summer resulted in an unprecedented articulation of the freedoms and liberties that would serve as the intellectual basis for the founding of the United States.
In the 18th century, the existence of a document that outlined the rights of citizens authored by colonial rebels was unprecedented. Today, the Declaration of Independence remains an unmatched intellectual achievement and continues to serve as a guiding light not only to Americans, but also to those who champion freedom around the globe.
Here in Nebraska, we continue to enjoy the blessing of freedom that started with the first 4th of July celebration. Since the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the pioneers who broke the prairie sod to build the first homesteads, Nebraska has been a place of great opportunity. While the Declaration of Independence served as the framework for the freedoms we enjoy today, countless men and women have defended and protected them over the last 239 years. Throughout our state’s history, many Nebraskans, like Captain Dustin Lukaesiewicz this year, have sacrificed everything for the cause of freedom.
To ensure that future generations enjoy the same liberties, our generation and subsequent ones must recommit to their protection. It is particularly important that all public servants, who have sworn to uphold and support the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Nebraska, remember their solemn oath. We have a special duty to safeguard freedoms because of the responsibilities we have accepted and the trust the people have placed in us.
As we celebrate with our families at home or in Seward, Central City, Ralston, Norfolk, Sumner, or one of the many communities across our state with 4th of July festivities, let us honor the people who made the Good Life possible and remember these words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
We hope you have a safe and memorable holiday. From our family to yours, Happy Independence Day!