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    Independence Day

    Today we celebrate the birth of our nation, the day we told the British Empire that we were no longer subjects of their rule. On the 4th of July, 1776 we became America, a united group of 13 colonies brought together to form a union of liberty with respect for its people and the freedom instilled within us all by our Creator. In the many years since our Founding Fathers gave birth to this great nation it has been tested, it has been tried, but time and time again it has triumphed, emerging strong - a beacon of freedom to inspire the world.

    However, our liberty has come at a high cost.

    In the year 1776, when a small group of brave men in Philadelphia signed a declaration of our independence, we were in the midst of the American Revolutionary War, a war that would rage for another six long years. As many as 50,000 patriots fighting for their freedom were casualties of that long struggle, the first blood shed for what would become our United States of America.

    In April of 1861, our country was tested again in what was perhaps our greatest battle - the fight to remain one and whole. This week our nation marked the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, a pivotal moment in our American civil war. More than 45,000 boys and men died in the three day conflict, paying the ultimate price to fight for the America they believed in, whether that was the values of the North or the South. After the final gun was silenced at the end of the war nearly two years later, America healed began to heal its wounds, united together, brother with brother to forge on toward the 20th century, a period many have called the American Century.

    The blood, sweat and tears of millions of our countrymen from 1776 to today have allowed us to live in relative peace, however, there is a movement afoot that may jeopardize all we have fought for over the last three centuries. All the sacrifices Americans have made.

    In the last four years new threats have emerged. Threats to our liberties. Threats from an over-reaching federal government that has sought to tighten their grip of control upon our fellow citizens and the states in which we live. The powerful in Washington, D.C. seek to influence, to regulate, to monitor our every action, from the dawn to the dusk of our days. The efforts of this regime are no less than a challenge to the liberty our Founders codified in the Declaration of Independence on this day 237 years ago.

    They are the actions of a government that looks to reward its friends and punish its enemies. A government that surveils your every electronic move and conversation. A government that flaunts its lavish lifestyle while many of its citizenry struggles to find a job and put food on their family table. A government that deifies our Constitution when it restrains their agenda. A government that wants to lessen the liberties upon which this great nation was founded.

    In 2009 a grassroots upswell for change, the Tea Party movement, was inspired by the federal government's over-reach into the nation's health care system. It is a movement that has grown to millions of souls seeking change. Shortly thereafter the Occupy Wall Street movement was born to protest what they see as the preferential treatment the government gives the top one-percent of earners in this country and the massive wealth they have amassed while many in the movement struggle to pay student loans or get a job.

    No matter what you think of either of these movements, and there are certainly strong opinions of them, they have sprung up because the people are desperate for change. Those on both ends of the political spectrum are unhappy with the America of today. An America that we have learned, via a hero or a traitor, is spying, not only on those abroad, but those of us at home as well. It is an unsettling revelation. A practice our founding patriots may have found quite disturbing and perhaps quite motivating.

    It is time for us to accept that we do not live in a nation shaped in the mold of liberty and justice that was envisioned at our birth.

    God gave us liberty from our sins with the sacrifice of his only son. Our Founding Fathers gave us liberty from tyranny with the sacrifice of their lives. The United States of America, which today celebrates its Independence Day, is seeing those liberties threatened. Do not let those sacrifices be made in vain.