Public Papers - 1989
Message on the Observance of Independence Day
Growing up in Connecticut -- ``the Constitution State'' -- the Fourth of July represented the best of holidays. It held the promise of parades, picnics, and fireworks. More important, however, it introduced a small boy to the promise of America.
Everywhere I turned, I would see the red, white, and blue of our flag. As I grew older, I realized that the flag has reminded generations of Americans how fortunate we are to live in a free and democratic Republic. It is a banner respected around the world. The Fourth of July is a day to pause and thank God that men such as Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin had the strength, courage, and insight to forge a nation predicated upon the noble ideal, ``that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. . . .''
Today, as we celebrate the 213th birthday of our Nation's founding, let us recall the words spoken by President George Washington during his first Inaugural Address on April 30, 1789: ``The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.''
After 213 years, Americans can say that the experiment is a resounding success. The Fourth of July is a time to rejoice in this success, which has inspired all who seek to break the shackles of totalitarian rule and breathe in the life-giving air of liberty.
Experience has shown us that success can exact a heavy price. We must never forget that this experiment in self-government continues to thrive because our Nation is blessed with an abundance of brave men and women who proudly serve in its Armed Forces. These individuals stand guard on the ramparts of liberty so that all Americans can say with pride and confidence, ``I'm free.''
To every American citizen, here and abroad, Happy Fourth of July! God bless you and God bless America!