My fellow Americans, 206 years ago one of history's greatest adventures began when a small band of patriots in Philadelphia resolved to stake their all—their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor—for freedom and independence. On that distant day America was born. Our country has been an inspiration for free men and women around the world ever since.
The Scriptures tell us that "Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." And for more than two centuries now our blessed land has grown and prospered, guided by a deep faith in the Almighty and an unquenchable thirst for freedom. As George Washington once wrote to another of the Founding Fathers, James Madison, "Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth."
Thanks to the faith and fortitude of our ancestors, freedom has flowered on our shores and has brought a legacy of liberty and opportunity to wave after wave of immigrants from every quarter of the globe. In war and peace, in good times and bad, each generation of Americans has passed on the torch of freedom.
Some of our ancestors faced trials that we will never know—the snows of Valley Forge; the crucible of a bitter, bloody civil war; and the incredible hardships endured in taming a savage wilderness. But the spirit of determination and love of country that saw them through to victory still beats in American hearts today.
We, too, face strong challenges to our free, abundant way of life. America is at peace, but we live in a troubled world. American abundance is still the marvel of mankind, but we still face serious economic and social problems.
Far more important, though, is the fact that, as a free people, we have both the means and the vision needed to solve our problems peacefully, fairly, and democratically. Because we are a free people we can work together voluntarily in a way no system based on tyranny ever will. That always has been and always will be America's ultimate strength. In the words of Dwight Eisenhower, "Free men do not lose their patience, their courage, their faith because the obstacles are mountainous, the path uncharted. Given understanding, they invariably rise to the challenge."
So, on this special day, the birthday of our nation, in the midst of all the joyous celebrations let us take a moment to remember the debt of thanks we owe to those who came before us, to the same God who guides us all, and to the spirit of faith and patriotism which still makes America "the land of the free and the home of the brave."
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.