On this anniversary of our formal Declaration of Independence from Great Britain, I am reminded how very blessed we have been in this other Eden called America. This country was founded on the premise that all people are created equal and that our Creator has endowed us with certain rights - life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The history of this country has been the story of the expansion of those rights - to include more and more of the people.
My ancestor, Chief Powhatan, was there to greet the first English settlers at Jamestown. An uncle, John Howland, was there at Plymouth when that colony was founded. My ancestors settled throughout the colonies and fought in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Many of our nation's "Founding Fathers" are distant cousins of mine. My ancestors fought for the Union and the Confederacy during the Civil War, and a few of them gave that last full measure of devotion in that struggle to expand the meaning of freedom. My family swept westward to the Great Plains, and one of my uncles died in a shootout on the street of a dusty little town in Oklahoma. My family endured through the Great Depression and gathered around the radio to listen to FDR's fireside chats when times were tough. My grandparents fought to free the world of the tyranny of fascism and empire in World War II. We have survived assassination, Vietnam, Watergate, and 9/11 in my lifetime; and we have also put a man on the moon, expanded civil rights and elected our first Black president during that same period.
God has truly blessed this great country, and I hope and pray that God will continue to do so. Father, guide our leaders to make good decisions for our country and inspire our people to be good citizens. Frustrate the wicked plans of our enemies and help us to expand freedom and opportunity for our citizens and the citizens of the world. Help us to be a blessing to others and an instrument of peace in the world. God bless the USA!