Ronald Reagan, "What the Fourth of July Means to Me"
July Fourth is the birthday of our nation. I believed as a boy, and believe even more today, that it is the birthday of the greatest nation on earth.
The day of our nation's birth in that little hall in Philadelphia, [was] a day on which debate had raged for hours. The men gathered there were honorable men hard-pressed by a king who had flouted the very laws they were willing to obey. Even so, to sign the Declaration of Independence was such an irretrievable act that the walls resounded with the words "treason, the gallows, the headsman's axe," and the issue remained in doubt.
. . .
In recent years . . . I've come to think of [Independence Day] as more than just the birthday of a nation.
It also commemorates the only true philosophical revolution in all history.
Oh, there have been revolutions before and since ours. But those revolutions simply exchanged one set of rules for another. Ours was a revolution that changed the very concept of government.
Let the Fourth of July always be a reminder that here in this land, for the first time, it was decided that man is born with certain God-given rights; that government is only a convenience created and managed by the people, with no powers of its own except those voluntarily granted to it by the people.
Thank you, troops, for preserving our freedom; thank you, heroes and heroines of all stripes who have led this country wisely and well -- and most of all, thanks to the Creator who has blessed us with a country so generous, and free, and fair. Happy Fourth of July!