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Happy 243rd Birthday America. Over two centuries ago, our founding fathers declared our independence from the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

A courageous act of defiance towards a tyrannical English government that did not see colonists as deserved of rights. At the same time, the monarchy took a disproportionate share of the economic spoils. 

Freedom is not free now and was not back then. The consequences for our founders were dire, if the revolution not successful. History books would reflect their execution as traitors not national heroes. 

Many of the ideals of our founding stood the test of time. The unifying principles of freedom and self determination still serve as a foundation for American life. 

The governing principle of representative democracy in an era where power exchanged following death or military conflict, rather than the casting of ballots. 

The values of justice in the presumption of innocence, the right to due process, and protection against excessive bail, which protects the accused from mob rule. 

In all fairness in our 243 year journey, our behaviors have not always well aligned with our espoused values. Our founding documents prescribe the equality that many generations denied certain groups. 

Unfortunately, there were times when the status quo overrode the purity of our national virtues, making horrendous practices like slavery acceptable because of economic and social thinking of the time.

As a nation, our failures must be acknowledged along with our successes. Many generations of Americans suffered the pains of our indiscretions. 

Society must continue our progress towards rightful change to unite the diverse groups embodying the American spirit. As all Americans possess the inherent right to life, liberty, and happiness. 

At the same time, society cannot dwell on the mistakes of yesteryear and divide society. The capacity for forgiveness is vital for any society, as long as all remember the lessons learned.

Going forward, America must remember to be a beacon of freedom, democracy, and hope not only on the global arena, but in every area of our nation as well. 

America can be that shining city on the hill with the light connecting with all our citizens. Let us ensure that freedom will ring from sea to shining sea.