This weekend, we’re celebrating the Fourth of July, a time to recognize what makes America who she is today and the values that have allowed us to carry on “The Great American Experiment” for 244 years. In today’s tumultuous times, it’s a message our country needs.
Some 160 years ago, Abraham Lincoln reminded us that, “at all times…all American citizens are brothers of a common country, and should dwell together in the bonds of fraternal feeling.”
That bond – our commitment to coming together to move our country forward – has made the United States the shining city upon a hill, the land of opportunity and the land of the free.
Our country is exceptional precisely because we have never settled for anything less.
This is the very reason it was Americans who first discovered electricity, built the airplane, put a man on the moon and developed chemotherapy. It’s why other countries look to us for leadership during troubled times. It’s why we prevailed in two world wars, defeated the axis of evil and have since maintained the greatest armed forces in the world. It’s why the idea of the American Dream exists.
Importantly, it’s the American people, past and present, who have shaped our American character. In the early years, it was the 56 men who put their lives on the line to draft and sign the Declaration of Independence, the greatest political document in history; the volunteer army of farmers and shopkeepers who defeated the British; the 55 Americans who came together to write the United States Constitution, guaranteeing the freedoms for Americans for generations to come.
In the years that followed, America fulfilled its promise to form a more perfect union. We acknowledge that it is not perfect, yet we are constantly striving to do better. We ended the injustice of slavery; guaranteed women the right to vote; overcame the Great Depression; helped defeat Nazi Germany, fought for the equal rights of all Americans during the Civil Rights Movement, helped bring about the end of the Soviet Union, and persevered after September 11.
These moments were made possible because of the dedication and leadership of American heroes. We still see American heroes today in the faces of our service men and women who bravely and selflessly protect us and our way of life from enemies all over the world, the dedicated men and women in law enforcement who work tirelessly to keep our communities safe, our teachers who provide the gift of education to our children, our doctors and nurses who save lives every day and have courageously faced the challenges of COVID-19, and the many leaders across America from local officials to our president, who defend democracy and work to ensure America lives up to her values.
American exceptionalism started with our humble beginnings, and it has endured throughout our history and every challenge we’ve faced. In today’s world, it’s tempting to focus on the divisions in America, but we have so much more that unites us. The Fourth of July is a reminder of the blessings of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” that every American deserves.
President Reagan once said, “Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people.”
I couldn’t have said it better. I hope this Fourth of July, we can stand together, proud and secure in the knowledge that we will continue the fight to make this country a more perfect union.
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U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler grew up as the fourth generation on her family’s farm. After nearly 30 years in the private sector, she was sworn into office on Jan. 6.