Full Text Obama Presidency July 4, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech at White House Fourth of July Celebration

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Fourth of July Celebration

Source: WH, 7-4-14

South Lawn

5:56 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Happy Fourth of July!  Welcome to the White House!

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thank you!

MRS. OBAMA:  You’re welcome!

THE PRESIDENT:  No, thank you.  (Laughter.)

Now, this little party is something we’ve been doing every year, because there’s no group that we’d rather spend time with on this most American of holidays than with you — the extraordinary men and women of America’s military.  And because of you, we’re safe, we’re free.  We depend on you for our way of life, and the sacrifices you make are extraordinary.

Now, in the house we’ve got Army.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Navy.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Air Force.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Marines.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Coast Guard.  (Applause.)  And, most important, we’ve got the incredible spouses and children –  give it up for our outstanding military families.  (Applause.)

To help us celebrate, we’ve got our outstanding Marine Band.  (Applause.)  Later on, we’re going to bring out Pitbull and his band.  (Applause.)  So we want to see if you like to party.  (Laughter.)  And, of course, this is always a special day for us because this is Malia’s birthday.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  She can get her license!

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, she’s going to get her license.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  She is.  She’s getting her license, but she has to practice a little bit before that happens.  (Laughter.)

Now, this is a gorgeous day.  We want you to enjoy yourselves, so I’m going to keep my remarks brief.  But it is important to remember why we’re here.

Two hundred and thirty-eight years ago, our founders came together and declared a new nation and a revolutionary idea –the belief that we are all created equal; that we’re free to govern ourselves; that each of us is entitled to life and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

And in the generations that have followed — through war and peace, through depression and prosperity — these truths have guided us as we have built the greatest democratic, economic, and military force the world has ever known.

So today, immigrants from around the world dream of coming to our shores.  Young people aspire to study at our universities.  Other nations look to us for support and leadership in times of disaster, and conflict, and uncertainty.  And when the world looks to America, so often they look to all of you –- the men and women of our Armed Forces.  Every day, at home and abroad, you’re working to uphold those ideals first declared in that Philadelphia hall more than two centuries ago.  Every day, you give meaning to that basic notion that as Americans we take care of each other.  And so today, we honor all of you.

And we salute some of the folks who are here with us on this balcony.  We salute our soldiers — like Chief Warrant Officer Tom Oroho, who has served this nation in uniform for 27 years, including deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Two summers ago, Tom was at the beach, saw a young girl and her father who had been swept out to sea, and jumped into dangerous riptide and pulled them back to safety.  That’s the kind of service we expect from our outstanding soldiers.  Please give it up for Tom.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

We salute our sailors — like Seaman Reverlie Thomas, who came to America 21 years ago from Trinidad.  She served a tour in the Persian Gulf for the Navy.  Just a few hours ago here at the White House, I was proud to welcome Seaman Thomas and 24 other servicemembers and military spouses as our newest American citizens.  Thank you Reverlie, and congratulations.  (Applause.)

We salute our airmen — like Technical Sergeant Cheryl Uylaki, who manages the Fisher House at Dover Air Force Base, ensuring the families of our fallen are always provided comfort and care worthy of their profound sacrifice.  We’re so grateful to you, Cheryl, for your great work.  (Applause.)

We salute our Marines — like Sergeant Isaac Gallegos, who was severely wounded after an IED explosion in Iraq eight years ago.  He suffered burns on almost every inch of his face.  He was pronounced dead three separate times.  Undergone 161 surgeries.  But he is here standing with us today, pursuing a Master’s degree, working full-time for the Navy.  That’s what we’re talking about when we talk about Marines.  Give it up for Isaac.  (Applause.)

We salute our Coasties — like Lieutenant Commander Sean Plankey, who helped lead a cyber team in Afghanistan that supported our troops during firefights and helped prevent the detonation of remote-controlled IEDs, saving countless lives.  So thank you, Sean.  (Applause.)

And we salute our military families — the spouses who put their careers on hold for their loved ones; the children who pick up extra chores while Mom or Dad is deployed; the siblings and parents and extended family members who serve the country every single day.  You’re the reason Michelle and Jill Biden started the Joining Forces initiative — to make sure America is supporting you, too.  And today we honor your service here today.  (Applause.)

So as we pause on this Fourth of July to celebrate what makes us American, we salute all of you whose service and sacrifice renews that promise of America every single day.  On behalf of the entire country, Michelle and I simply want to say thank you to all of you for your courage and your strength, and your unending service to this nation.

Happy Fourth of July, everybody.  Have a great party.  Have a hotdog.  Have a hamburger.  We want to see you dancing.  God bless you all, and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

END
6:05 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency July 4, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech at Naturalization Ceremony for Servicemembers and Military Spouses about Immigration Reform

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Naturalization Ceremony for Servicemembers and Military Spouses

Source: WH, 7-4-14

East Room

11:24 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  Please be seated.  Good morning and welcome to the White House.  And Happy Fourth of July!  (Applause.)

Deputy Secretary Mayorkas, thank you for taking care of the important part of this morning, which is administering the oath — that’s the thing that we want to make sure we got right.  (Laughter.)  To Acting Deputy Director Jones, to family, friends, distinguished guests — thank you all for being here.  And finally, to these 25 men and women, servicemembers and spouses, it is an honor to join everyone here, for the first time, in calling you “our fellow Americans.”

Now, this is one of my favorite events to do — and not just because we get to have a barbeque and watch fireworks later.  (Laughter.)  It’s because each of you has traveled a long journey to this moment — journeys that began in places like Jamaica and Germany, China and Guatemala.  And yet somehow — either because your parents brought you here as children, or because you made the choice yourselves as adults — you ended up here, in America.

And then many of you did something extraordinary:  You signed up to serve in the United States military.  You answered the call –- to fight and potentially to give your life for a country that you didn’t fully belong to yet.  You understood what makes us American is not just circumstances of birth, or the names in our family tree.  It’s that timeless belief that from many we are one; that we are bound together by adherence to a set of beliefs and unalienable rights; that we have certain obligations to each other, to look after each other, and to serve one another.  And over the years, that’s exactly what you’ve done.

Rodrigo Laquian came to the United States from the Philippines.  He joined the Navy because, he said, he “wanted to be a part of something big and important.  To be a part of a great cause.”  Today, Petty Officer Second Class Laquian is still part of that great cause — and today he’s also an American citizen.

Stephanie Van Ausdall moved here from Canada with her mom when she was 18 years old.  And today she’s 26 and a Sergeant in the Army.  Stephanie says she joined the military “to give my children someone to look up to and someone they can be proud of.”  Stephanie, I know that you’ve made your children and all of us very proud.

Oscar Gonzalez was born in Guatemala, and became a Marine last year.  Becoming a citizen, he says, means becoming part of a “society that strives and stands for good all around the world — just being a part of that makes me complete.”  Well, Oscar, welcoming you as an American citizen makes our country a little more complete, so thank you.

And then there are those of you who married an American servicemember, and as a military spouse, you’ve been serving our country as well.  Diana Baker is originally from Kenya and met her husband Kowaine in Germany.  Today she’s a nurse at Frederick Memorial Hospital in Maryland, and she and her husband have four beautiful children.  In Diana’s words, “Becoming a citizen of the United States is like joining a club of the best of the best.”  (Laughter.)  And I agree.  Congratulations, Diana, on joining the club.

Together, all of you remind us that America is and always has been a nation of immigrants.  Throughout our history, immigrants have come to our shores in wave after wave, from every corner of the globe.  Every one of us –- unless we’re Native American –- has an ancestor who was born somewhere else.

And even though we haven’t always looked the same or spoken the same language, as Americans, we’ve done big things together.  We’ve won this country’s freedom together.  We’ve built our greatest cities together.  We’ve defended our way of life together.  We’ve continued to perfect our union together.

And that’s what makes America special.  That’s what makes us strong.  The basic idea of welcoming immigrants to our shores is central to our way of life, it is in our DNA.  We believe our diversity, our differences, when joined together by a common set of ideals, makes us stronger, makes us more creative, makes us different.  From all these different strands, we make something new here in America.  And that’s why, if we want to keep attracting the best and brightest from beyond our borders, we’re going to have to fix our immigration system, which is broken, and pass commonsense immigration reform.

We shouldn’t be making it harder for the best and the brightest to come here, and create jobs here, and grow our economy here.  We should be making it easier.  And that’s why I’m going to keep doing –

(Audience member applauds.)

THE PRESIDENT:  He agrees with me.  (Laughter and applause.)  So I’m going to keep doing everything I can do to keep making our immigration system smarter and more efficient so hardworking men and women like all of you have the opportunity to join the American family and to serve our great nation.  So we can be stronger and more prosperous and more whole –- together.

I’ll close with a quick story.  George Mardikian was an immigrant from Armenia who became a famous chef.  And George had a quote that I think will ring true for most immigrants.  He said, “You who have been born in America, I wish I could make you understand what it is like not to be an American -– not to have been an American all your life -– and then, suddenly to be one, for that moment, and forever after.”

Today, on this Fourth of July, all across the country –- from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello to the Alamodome in Texas — immigrants from around the world are taking the oath of citizenship.  And many of them have worked and sacrificed for years to get to this moment.  All of them have done it for something none of us should ever take for granted:  the right to be called an American, from this moment, and forever after.

And that fact should give us hope and should make us confident about the future of our country.  Because as long as there are men and women like all of you who are willing to give so much for the right to call yourselves Americans, and as long as we do our part to keep the door open to those who are willing to earn their citizenship, then we’re going to keep on growing our economy, we’ll continue to journey forward, and we’ll remind the world of why the United States of America is and always will be the greatest nation on Earth.  We’re very proud of you.  Congratulations.

God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  And now I’d like to turn it over to Deputy Secretary Mayorkas.  Congratulations.  (Applause.)

END
11:31 A.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency July 4, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address: Celebrating Independence Day

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Weekly Address: Celebrating Independence Day

Source: WH, 7-4-14 

WASHINGTON, DC — In this week’s address, President Obama commemorated Independence Day by noticing the contributions and sacrifices from individuals throughout the history of this country – from our Founding Fathers, to the men and women in our military serving at home and abroad.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
July 4, 2014

Hi, everybody. I hope you’re all having a great Fourth of July weekend.

I want to begin today by saying a special word to the U.S. Men’s Soccer Team, who represented America so well the past few weeks. We are so proud of you. You’ve got a lot of new believers. And I know there’s actually a petition on the White House website to make Tim Howard the next Secretary of Defense. Chuck Hagel’s got that spot right now, but if there is a vacancy, I’ll think about it.

It was 238 years ago that our founders came together in Philadelphia to launch our American experiment. There were farmers and businessmen, doctors and lawyers, ministers and a kite-flying scientist.

Those early patriots may have come from different backgrounds and different walks of life. But they were united by a belief in a simple truth — that we are all created equal; that we are all endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights; and that among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Over the years, that belief has sustained us through war and depression; peace and prosperity. It’s helped us build the strongest democracy, the greatest middle class, and the most powerful military the world has ever known. And today, there isn’t a nation on Earth that wouldn’t gladly trade places with the United States of America.

But our success is only possible because we have never treated those self-evident truths as self-executing. Generations of Americans have marched, organized, petitioned, fought and even died to extend those rights to others; to widen the circle of opportunity for others; and to perfect this union we love so much.

That’s why I want to say a special thanks to the men and women of our armed forces and the families who serve with them — especially those service members who spent this most American of holidays serving your country far from home.

You keep us safe, and you keep the United States of America a shining beacon of hope for the world. And for that, you and your families deserve not only the appreciation of a grateful nation, but our enduring commitment to serve you as well as you’ve served us.

God bless you all. And have a great weekend.

Political Musings July 6, 2013: President Barack Obama celebrates American history and the military on the Fourth of July

POLITICAL MUSINGS

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/pol_musings.jpg?w=500&h=80?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama celebrates American history and the military on the Fourth of July

By Bonnie K. Goodman

On Thursday July 4, Americans across the United States celebrated the country’s 237th birthday; the day observed which marks the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle celebrated with military…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency July 4, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech at White House Fourth of July Celebration

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Fourth of July Celebration

Source: WH, 7-4-13
The President Delivers Remarks at Independence Day Celebration

The President Delivers Remarks at Independence Day Celebration

South Lawn

5:58 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Welcome to the White House.  (Applause.)  And Happy Fourth of July!  (Applause.)

So we’ve tried to plan a proper Fourth of July celebration. We’re grilling some food.  We’ve got the fireworks coming.  We’ve got lots of music.  The band fun. is here with us today.  (Applause.)  And we’ve got multiple groups from our Marine Band
– we’ve got the Marine Concert Band.  We’ve got the Dixieland Band.  We’ve got the Marching Band.  And we’ve got Free Country, the country band.  (Applause.)

So we hope everybody has a great time.  We are incredibly grateful for your service, and we’re thankful that you get a chance to spend the Fourth here with us.  And by the way, it’s Malia’s birthday, so she is appreciative that you’re all going to be wishing her happy birthday as well.  (Applause.)

So I don’t want to keep you from the food, but let me just say this.  There are children all over the world right now asking their parents what’s so special about today.  And maybe some of those little ones are running around even here on the South Lawn, thinking, well, this is just an excuse for some hotdogs.  (Laughter.)  But it’s worth remembering what happened 237 years ago on this date and what it meant to the world.

On July 4, 1776, a small band of patriots declared that we were a people created equal, free to think and worship and live as we please; that our destiny would not be determined for us, it would be determined by us.  And it was bold and it was brave.  And it was unprecedented, it was unthinkable.  At that time in human history, it was kings and princes and emperors who made decisions.

But those patriots knew there was a better way of doing things, that freedom was possible, and that to achieve their freedom they’d be willing to lay down their lives, their fortunes and their honor.  And so they fought a revolution.  And few would have bet on their side, but for the first time in many times to come, America proved the doubters wrong.

And now, 237 years later, this improbable experiment in democracy, the United States of America, stands as the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)  And what makes us great is not our size or our wealth, but our values and our ideals and the fact that we’re willing to fight for them.  A land of liberty and opportunity; a global defender of peace and freedom; a beacon of hope for people everywhere who cherish those ideals.

And we have also earned it — you have earned it — because as part of a long line of folks who are willing to fight for those ideals, we’ve been able to not only preserve and make more perfect this union, but also try to spread that light elsewhere. You, the fighting men and women of the United States, and those who came before you, you’ve played a special role.  You defended our nation at home and abroad.  You fought for our nation’s beliefs, to make the world a better and safer place.  People in scattered corners of the world live in peace today are free to write their own futures, because of you.

And we’ve got all of you here today.  We’ve got Army.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Navy.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Air Force.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Marines.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Coast Guard.  (Applause.)  And we’ve got National Guard.  (Applause.)  That’s all right, National Guard, we love you, too.  (Applause.)
And up here with me are incredibly capable and brave men and women from each service branch.  And we salute you, one and all. We salute our soldiers, like Specialist Heidi Olson, who, when she was wounded by an IED in Afghanistan, gave lifesaving treatment to another injured soldier, and then another.  She had to be ordered to stop and get treatment for herself when the MEDEVAC aircraft arrived.  And for her courage she was awarded a Bronze Star.  Give her a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

We salute our sailors, like Petty Officer Joe Marcinkowski, who serves wounded warriors at Walter Reed, coordinating their care and supporting their families throughout their recoveries.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Joe.

We salute our airmen, like Staff Sergeant Adam Ybarra, who helped save nine lives in 11 combat search and mission rescues in Afghanistan in 2012.  Give Adam a big round of applause.  (Applause.)
We salute our Marines, like Corporal Amber Fifer, who was shot five times in an attack in Helmand Province, and has stayed on to serve as a Marine Corps drill instructor.  (Applause.)

And we salute our Coasties, including Petty Officer Randy Haba, who was one of the first responders to rescue the crew of a ship off the coast of North Carolina when Hurricane Sandy struck and saved the lives of five mariners.  (Applause.)

So every day, men and women like them — and like all of you — are carrying forward the ideals that inspired that American Dream 237 years ago.  Defending our nation and our freedoms with strength and with sacrifice is your daily charge.  And it’s the charge of all of us — the charge of all who serve worldwide, including our troops that are still in harm’s way, and their families back home.  They serve, too.  And so we think of them, we pray for them.

And on behalf of all Americans, I want to say thank you and wish you all a very, very happy Fourth of July.  You’ve earned it.  So, God bless you.  God bless your families.  God bless the United States of America.

And with that, let me turn it back over to the Marine Band.  (Applause.)

END
6:05 P.M. EDT

History Buzz July 4, 2013: 10 fascinating facts about the Declaration of Independence

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

10 fascinating facts about the Declaration of Independence

Source: Philly.com, 7-4-13

John Trumbull´s famous painting is often identified as a depiction of the signing of the Declaration, but it actually shows the drafting committee presenting its work to the Congress. (Wikipedia)

John Trumbull’s famous painting is often identified as a depiction of the signing of the Declaration, but it actually shows the drafting committee presenting its work to the Congress. (Wikipedia)

John Trumbull´s famous painting is often identified as a depiction of the signing of the Declaration, but it actually shows the drafting committee presenting its work to the Congress. (Wikipedia)

Gallery: 10 fascinating facts about the Declaration of Independence

1. Is Independence Day really July 2?

2. July 4 is when the Declaration was adopted

3. Six people signed the Declaration and also the Constitution

4. But they didn’t sign the Declaration on July 4th!

5. So what if I stumble upon a lost version of the Dunlap Broadside at a flea market?

6. OK – when was the Declaration actually signed?

7. The Declaration’s association with Independence Day came from a lapse of memory

8. The Declaration suffered from a lack of early respect

9. The Declaration and Constitution were hidden away during World War II

10. There really is a message written on the back of the Declaration of Independence….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency July 4, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address: Celebrating Independence Day

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Weekly Address: Celebrating Independence Day

Source: WH, 7-4-13

President Obama commemorates our nation’s Independence Day, and recognizes the generations of Americans— from farmers to teachers to entrepreneurs—who worked together to make the United States what it is today. The President also thanked the men and women of the military, who have given so much to defend the United States at home and abroad, and said that we are grateful for their service and sacrifice.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

Weekly Address: Celebrating Independence Day

Source: WH, 7-4-13

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
July 4, 2013

Hi everybody.  I hope you all had a safe and happy Fourth of July, filled with parades, cookouts, fireworks and family reunions.

We celebrated at the White House with a few hundred members of the military and their families. And we took a moment amid the festivities to remember what our Independence Day is all about – what happened 237 years ago, and what it meant to the world.

On July 4th, 1776, a small band of patriots declared that we were a people created equal – free to think and worship and live as we please.  It was a declaration heard around the world – that we were no longer colonists, we were Americans, and our destiny would not be determined for us; it would be determined by us.

It was a bold and tremendously brave thing to do.  It was also nearly unthinkable.  At that time, kings and princes and emperors ruled the world.  But those patriots were certain that a better way was possible.  And to achieve it – to win their freedom – they were willing to lay it all on the line.  Their lives.  Their fortunes.  Their sacred honor.

They fought a revolution.  Few would have bet on our side to win.  But for the first of many times to come, America proved the doubters wrong.

And now, 237 years later, the United States – this improbable nation – is the greatest in the world.  A land of liberty and opportunity.  A global defender of peace and freedom.  A beacon of hope to people everywhere who cherish those ideals.

Generations of Americans made our country what it is today – farmers and teachers, engineers and laborers, entrepreneurs and elected leaders – people from all walks of life, from all parts of the world, all pulling in the same direction.

And now we, the people, must make their task our own – to live up to the words of that Declaration of Independence, and secure liberty and opportunity for our own children, and for future generations.

I want to say a special word of thanks to the men and women of our military, who have played such a vital role in the story of our nation.  You have defended us at home and abroad.  And you have fought on our nation’s behalf to make the world a better, safer place.  People in scattered corners of the world are living in peace today, free to write their own futures, because of you.  We are grateful for your service and your sacrifice, especially those still serving in harm’s way and your families here at home.

So, God bless you all.  And may God bless the United States of America.

Full Text Obama Presidency July 4, 2012: President Obama’s Speech at White House Fourth of July Celebration Thanks Military Heroes

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Obama Thanks Military Heroes at Fourth of July Celebration

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama paid tribute to America’s men and women in uniform Wednesday night as he kicked off the White House Fourth of July celebration, telling service members gathered on the South Lawn that they “represent what is best in America.”

“You serve under our proud flag.  You and your families sacrifice more than most of us can ever know — all in defense of those God-given rights that were first put to paper 236 years ago: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” he said.  “So as your commander-in-chief — but also as an American — I want to invite all of you over to say one thing: Thank you.”

The president saluted this “generation of heroes” for its service and sacrifice….READ MORE

Remarks by the President at Fourth of July Celebration

South Lawn

6:02 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  How’s it going, everybody?  (Applause.)  Are you hot?  It’s supposed to be hot.  It’s the fourth of July.  Happy Fourth of July, everybody!  (Applause.)  On behalf of the entire Obama family, welcome to the White House.

Now, the last thing anybody wants to do is to ruin a nice backyard barbecue with a long speech, so I’m going to be quick.

It is always such an honor for us to spend this holiday with members of our military and your extraordinary families.  All of you represent what is best in America.  You serve under our proud flag.  You and your families sacrifice more than most of us can ever know — all in defense of those God-given rights that were first put to paper 236 years ago: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

So as your Commander-in-Chief — but also as an American — I want to invite all of you over to say one thing: thank you.

Today, all across America, at schools, and beaches, and in town squares, Americans are celebrating the freedoms that all of you and your families defend.  Like many of them, we’re grilling in the backyard.  We’ve got some pretty good tunes for you.  We’ve got the outstanding Marine Band.  Give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  And we’ve got Brad Paisley and his band in the house for a little country.  (Applause.)

We’ve also got all of you.  We’ve got Army in the house.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Navy.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Air Force.  (Applause.)  You know we’ve got some Marines here.  (Applause.)  And we’ve got Coast Guard.  (Applause.)  Today, we salute all of you.

We salute our soldiers, like Sergeant Alan Ruehs, who, in the midst of an enemy ambush in Afghanistan, risked his own life to save the lives of four others.

We salute our sailors, like Petty Officer Taylor Morris, who suffered terrible wounds while serving in Afghanistan on an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team, but who inspires us all through his incredible recovery.

We salute an Airman — Colonel Charles Barnett, who led close to 200 combat missions in Afghanistan and still serves his country by volunteering to care for our fallen heroes at Arlington National Cemetery.

We salute a Marine — Corporal Alex Nguyen, who sustained serious injuries when his vehicle struck an IED in Afghanistan, but who carries on stronger than ever.

We salute a “Coastie” from my hometown of Chicago — Lieutenant Commander Michelle Watson, who was one of the first African American women to graduate from the Coast Guard Academy, and went on to perform exceptional service in Operation Enduring Freedom.

All the men and women who stand with us here this afternoon are an example of this generation of heroes — this 9/11 Generation that has earned its place in history alongside the greatest generations.  Because of your service and sacrifice, all of our troops are now out of Iraq.  (Applause.)  Because of your service and sacrifice, we took the fight to al Qaeda and we brought Osama bin Laden to justice.  (Applause.)  Because of your service and sacrifice, we’re transitioning out of Afghanistan.  We will remain ready for any threat.  That is all because of you.  (Applause.)

And as long as I have the honor of being your Commander-in-Chief, I want you all — our men and women in uniform, our veterans and their families — to know this: America will always remember.  We will always be there for you, just as you’ve been there for us.  That’s my promise.  That is America’s promise.  And that is one that we pledge to fulfill on this Independence Day.

So, Happy Fourth of July, everybody.  Enjoy the fireworks.  Get some hotdogs.  God bless you.  God bless your families.  And God bless these United States of America.

And with that, let me turn it back over to the United States Marine Band.  (Applause.)

END
6:07 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency July 4, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at Independence Day Naturalization Ceremony — Salutes 25 Soldiers Becoming Citizens

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES

President Obama Salutes New American Citizens

Source: WH, 7-4-12

President Obama at Naturalization Ceremony July 4, 2012
President Barack Obama listens as Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano administers the oath of allegiance during a military naturalization ceremony for active duty service members in the East Room of the White House, July 4, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama began his Independence Day celebrations by hosting a naturalization ceremony for active duty service members in the East Room of the White House. It was the third time the President has hosted this kind of service, and he told the audience, which included the families of the service members who were taking the oath of citizenship, that it is one of his favorite things to do. “It brings me great joy and inspiration because it reminds us that we are a country that is bound together not simply by ethnicity or bloodlines, but by fidelity to a set of ideas.”

Before the President gave his remarks, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas presented the countries of the candidates for naturalization and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano delivered the oath of allegiance.  President Obama told the new citizens that is was an honor to serve as their Commander in Chief, and to be the first to greet them as “my fellow Americans.”

With this ceremony today — and ceremonies like it across our country — we affirm another truth: Our American journey, our success, would simply not be possible without the generations of immigrants who have come to our shores from every corner of the globe.  We say it so often, we sometimes forget what it means — we are a nation of immigrants.  Unless you are one of the first Americans, a Native American, we are all descended from folks who came from someplace else — whether they arrived on the Mayflower or on a slave ship, whether they came through Ellis Island or crossed the Rio Grande.

Immigrants signed their names to our Declaration and helped win our independence.  Immigrants helped lay the railroads and build our cities, calloused hand by calloused hand.  Immigrants took up arms to preserve our union, to defeat fascism, and to win a Cold War.  Immigrants and their descendants helped pioneer new industries and fuel our Information Age, from Google to the iPhone.  So the story of immigrants in America isn’t a story of “them,” it’s a story of “us.”  It’s who we are.  And now, all of you get to write the next chapter.

You can read the transcript of the President’s full remarks here.

Remarks by the President at Naturalization Ceremony

East Room

10:58 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Good morning, everybody.

AUDIENCE:  Good morning, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Secretary Napolitano, Director Mayorkas, distinguished guests, family and friends — welcome to the White House.  Happy Fourth of July.  What a perfect way to celebrate America’s birthday — the world’s oldest democracy, with some of our newest citizens.

I have to tell you, just personally, this is one of my favorite things to do.  It brings me great joy and inspiration because it reminds us that we are a country that is bound together not simply by ethnicity or bloodlines, but by fidelity to a set of ideas.  And as members of our military, you raised your hand and took an oath of service.  It is an honor for me to serve as your Commander-in-Chief.  Today, you raised your hand and have taken an oath of citizenship.  And I could not be prouder to be among the first to greet you as “my fellow Americans.”

Looking back, it was an act of extraordinary audacity — a few dozen delegates, in that hall in Philadelphia, daring to defy the mightiest empire in the world, declaring “that these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States.”

Two hundred and thirty-six years later, we marvel at America’s story.  From a string of 13 colonies to 50 states from sea to shining sea.  From a fragile experiment in democracy to a beacon of freedom that still lights the world.  From a society of farmers and merchants to the largest, most dynamic economy in the world.  From a ragtag army of militias and regulars to you — the finest military that the world has ever known.  From a population of some 3 million — free and slave — to more than 300 million Americans of every color and every creed.

With this ceremony today — and ceremonies like it across our country — we affirm another truth:  Our American journey, our success, would simply not be possible without the generations of immigrants who have come to our shores from every corner of the globe.  We say it so often, we sometimes forget what it means — we are a nation of immigrants.  Unless you are one of the first Americans, a Native American, we are all descended from folks who came from someplace else — whether they arrived on the Mayflower or on a slave ship, whether they came through Ellis Island or crossed the Rio Grande.

Immigrants signed their names to our Declaration and helped win our independence.  Immigrants helped lay the railroads and build our cities, calloused hand by calloused hand.  Immigrants took up arms to preserve our union, to defeat fascism, and to win a Cold War.  Immigrants and their descendants helped pioneer new industries and fuel our Information Age, from Google to the iPhone.  So the story of immigrants in America isn’t a story of “them,” it’s a story of “us.”  It’s who we are.  And now, all of you get to write the next chapter.

Each of you have traveled your own path to this moment — from Cameroon and the Philippines, Russia and Palau and places in between.  Some of you came here as children, brought by parents who dreamed of giving you the opportunities that they had never had.  Others of you came as adults, finding your way through a new country and a new culture and a new language.

All of you did something profound:  You chose to serve.  You put on the uniform of a country that was not yet fully your own. In a time of war, some of you deployed into harm’s way.  You displayed the values that we celebrate every Fourth of July — duty, responsibility, and patriotism.

We salute a husband and father, originally from Mexico, now a United States Marine, joined today by his wife Silvia and daughter Juliett.  Becoming a citizen, he says, is “another step in the right direction for my family.”  So today we congratulate Francisco Ballesteros De La Rosa.  Where’s Francisco?  (Applause.)

We salute a young woman from El Salvador, who came here when she was just six, grew up in America, who says she “always had a desire to serve” and who dreamed of becoming — who dreams of becoming an Army medic.  So we congratulate Luisa Childers.  Luisa.  (Applause.)

We salute a young man from Nigeria who came here as a child. “I left Nigeria,” he says, “with the dream that we all have a destiny in life and we are all born with the resources to make a difference.”  We are confident he will make a difference.  We congratulate Oluwatosin Akinduro.  (Applause.)

We salute a young man from Bolivia, who came to America, enlisted in our military and has volunteered to help care for our veterans.  He’s becoming a citizen, he says, to be a “part of the freedom that everybody is looking for.”  And so we congratulate Javier Beltran.  (Applause.)

It has taken these men and women — these Americans — years, even decades, to realize their dream.  And this, too, reminds us of a lesson of the Fourth.  On that July day, our Founders declared their independence.  But they only declared it; it would take another seven years to win the war.  Fifteen years to forge a Constitution and a Bill of Rights.  Nearly 90 years, and a great Civil War, to abolish slavery.  Nearly 150 years for women to win the right to vote.  Nearly 190 years to enshrine voting rights.  And even now, we’re still perfecting our union, still extending the promise of America.

That includes making sure the American dream endures for all those — like these men and women — who are willing to work hard, play by the rules and meet their responsibilities.  For just as we remain a nation of laws, we have to remain a nation of immigrants.  And that’s why, as another step forward, we’re lifting the shadow of deportation from serving — from deserving young people who were brought to this country as children.  It’s why we still need a DREAM Act — to keep talented young people who want to contribute to our society and serve our country.  It’s why we need — why America’s success demands — comprehensive immigration reform.

Because the lesson of these 236 years is clear — immigration makes America stronger.  Immigration makes us more prosperous.  And immigration positions America to lead in the 21st century.  And these young men and women are testaments to that.  No other nation in the world welcomes so many new arrivals.  No other nation constantly renews itself, refreshes itself with the hopes, and the drive, and the optimism, and the dynamism of each new generation of immigrants.  You are all one of the reasons that America is exceptional.  You’re one of the reasons why, even after two centuries, America is always young, always looking to the future, always confident that our greatest days are still to come.

So, to all of you, I want to wish you the happiest Fourth of July.  God bless you all.  God bless our men and women in uniform and your families.  And God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

And with that, I want you to join me in welcoming onto the stage one of America’s newest citizens.  Born in Guatemala, he enlisted in the Marine Corps, served with honor in Afghanistan.  And I know he’s especially proud because, in a few days, his father Walter — who’s also here today — will become a naturalized American citizen as well.  Where’s Walter?  There he is over there.  (Laughter.)  Good to see you, Walter.  (Applause.)  Please welcome, Lance Corporal Byron Acevedo to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Right here.

MR. ACEVEDO:  I’m nervous.  (Laughter.)

(The Pledge of Allegiance is said.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  Have a great Fourth of July.  Congratulations to our newest citizens.  Yay!  (Applause.)

END
11:09 A.M. EDT

History Buzz July 4, 2011: Obamas & Nation Celebrate Independence Day 2011

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

INDEPENDENCE DAY: JULY 4TH, 2011

STATS & POLLS

  • Celebrating Independence Day: Americans come together for Fourth of July festivities in the District and throughout the region…. – WaPo
  • How well do you know the Declaration of Independence? Take our quiz: Every Fourth of July, Americans celebrate the independence of the United States with fireworks, parades, and picnics. But how much do people know about the 1776 events that are being cheered? Here’s a quiz to test your knowledge of the Declaration of Independence…. – CS Monitor, 7-4-11

IN FOCUS

  • Obama thanks troops at July 4 party on South Lawn: Telling U.S. troops that “America is proud of all of you,” President Barack Obama marked the Fourth of July holiday by hosting a barbecue and concert for military members and families on the South Lawn of the White House.
    The president and his family – wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia – greeted more than 1,200 guests from a White House balcony Monday evening. After brief remarks, the first couple stood in the driveway and shook hands with visitors.
    “You represent the latest in a long line of heroes who have served our country with honor, who have made incredible sacrifices to protect the freedoms that we all enjoy,” Obama said. “You’ve done everything we could’ve asked of you,” he said, also recognizing the “families that serve alongside of you with strength and devotion.”… AP, 7-4-11

THE HEADLINES….

  • Fireworks, parades, 62 hot dogs: US celebrates 4th: The U.S. marked the 235th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence with parades, fireworks, barbecues — plus presidential campaigning, a White House birthday and competitive eating….
    The holiday is celebrated as the nation’s birthday, but it also was Malia Obama’s 13th birthday. The president’s eldest daughter had to share her parents with hundreds of others as Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama invited troops and their families to attend a special barbecue and USO concert on the South Lawn.
    Some of the Republicans hoping to replace Obama in the White House spent part of the day campaigning in states where presidential politics are as much a part of the holiday as fireworks and barbecues…. – AP, 7-4-11
  • A Fireworks Show for the Nation: Fireworks will be illuminating the skies in cities across the country on this July 4 holiday.
    Among the classic destinations for Independence Day displays, the fireworks show on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., has long been a go-to for pyrotechnic enthusiasts.
    A Tennessee-based company called Pyro Shows is on its ninth year of designing Washington’s fireworks celebration. We talked to Tom Stiner about what goes into pulling a pyrotechnic show of this magnitude.
    Set against the backdrop of the Washington monument, the event includes “A Capitol Fourth” concert, which you can watch on many PBS stations starting at 8 p.m. ET…. – PBS, 7-4-11
  • Fourth of July Celebrations Draw Families, Troops and Presidential Hopefuls: SUMMARY Americans at home and abroad celebrated Independence Day with parades, barbeques, and fireworks. Judy Woodruff reports on how Americans celebrated Independence Day here and abroad.
    JUDY WOODRUFF: The United States marked its birthday today, the 235th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, with parades and fireworks, plus competitive eating, presidential campaigning, and a new teenager at the White House.
    The party started late last night, midnight, to be exact, in Gatlinburg, Tenn. The tiny mountain town kicked off the Fourth of July in classic fashion, with banners, music, and plenty of kids up past their bedtime.
    Today, in cities across the country, preparations were under way for a robust celebration, unpacking fireworks and prepping the stages…. – PBS Newshour, 7-4-11Mp3

QUOTES

The President and First Lady watch the fireworks

The President and First Lady watch the fireworks over the National Mall, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 7/4/10

Barack Obama: Today we are celebrating our country, honoring our troops, and enjoying a little BBQ. From all of us at Obama 2012, have a wonderful Fourth.

George W. Bush: Laura and I wish our fellow Americans a happy 4th of July. On this anniversary of our independence, we give thanks for our freedom. We salute the men and women in uniform who defend it. And we ask for God’s continued blessings on the United States.

John McCain: Independence Day Message: I was honored to join General David Petraeus today at a re-enlistment ceremony in Afghanistan for 235 of our brave troopers on this, America’s 235th Independence Day. It was both humbling and inspiring to share this day with so many young Americans who have committed their lives to a cause greater than themselves — the freedom and security of our nation.
As we gather today for backyard barbecues and community events this 4th of July, let us pay tribute to our troops in harms way, their families who miss and love them so dearly, and all the heroes who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend the nation we love.
Have a safe and joyful 4th of July, and God Bless America!

Michelle Obama: What You Can Do to Support Military Families: Good morning, This Independence Day, I hope you’ll join me and my family in recognizing both our brave men and women in uniform and their families for everything they do to protect our country and our way of life.
We know that when our troops are called to serve, their families serve right along with them. For military kids, that means stepping up to help with the housework and putting on a brave face through all those missed holidays, bedtimes and ballet recitals. For military spouses, it means pulling double-duty, doing the work of both parents, often while juggling a full-time job or trying to get an education.
That’s why, a few months ago, Dr. Jill Biden and I started Joining Forces, a nationwide campaign to recognize, honor, and serve our military families. Our troops give so much to this country and they ask us for just one thing in return: to take care of their families while they’re gone. So we’ve put out a call to action. We’re urging all Americans to ask themselves one question: What can I do to give back to these families that have given so much?
To answer that question you can go to JoiningForces.gov and learn more about how you can get involved. And you can get started right now through Operation Honor Card by pledging to spend a certain number of hours serving military families in your community. – WH, 7-4-11

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

An illustration shows Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams reviewing a draft of the Declaration of Independence.

Thomas Jefferson (left), Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams draft the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Illustration courtesy Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, Library of Congres

  • Valerie Strauss: Top 5 myths about July 4: Back by popular demand (well, I like them), here are the top five myths about Independence Day, adapted from George Mason University’s History News Network:
    1. Independence was declared on the Fourth of July.
    2. The Declaration of Independence was signed July 4.
    3. The Liberty Bell rang in American Independence.
    4. Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag.
    5. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on the Fourth of July…. – WaPo, 7-4-11
  • Fourth of July: Nine Myths Debunked Paul Revere didn’t ride solo, for one: Many time-honored patriotic tales turn out to be more fiction than fact. On the Fourth of July—today marked by a continent-spanning Google doodle—here’s a look at some memorable myths from the birth of the United States.
    1. The Declaration of Independence Was Signed on July 4
    2. Paul Revere Rode Solo
    3. July 4, 1776, Party Cracked the Liberty Bell
    4. Patriots Flocked to Fight for Freedom
    5. The Declaration of Independence Holds Secret Messages
    6. John Adams Died Thinking of Thomas Jefferson
    7. America United Against the British
    8. Betsy Ross Made the First American Flag
    9. Native Americans Sided With the British… – National Geo, 7-4-11
  • E.J. Dionne Jr.: What our Declaration really said: Our nation confronts a challenge this Fourth of July that we face but rarely: We are at odds over the meaning of our history and why, to quote our Declaration of Independence, “governments are instituted.”
    Only divisions this deep can explain why we are taking risks with our country’s future that we’re usually wise enough to avoid. Arguments over how much government should tax and spend are the very stuff of democracy’s give-and-take. Now, the debate is shadowed by worries that if a willful faction does not get what it wants, it might bring the nation to default.
    This is, well, crazy. It makes sense only if politicians believe — or have convinced themselves — that they are fighting over matters of principle so profound that any means to defeat their opponents is defensible.
    We are closer to that point than we think, and our friends in the Tea Party have offered a helpful clue by naming their movement in honor of the 1773 revolt against tea taxes on that momentous night in Boston Harbor…. – WaPo, 7-4-11
  • Special: Independence Daze – A History Of July 4th: Everybody knows that July 4th celebrates our nation’s beginnings. But for the first 94 years of our existence, the 4th wasn’t an official holiday at all. The Declaration of Independence itself sat untended in a dusty archive for 150 years. So how did Independence Day become the holiest day on our secular calendar? And why do we observe it with hot dogs, fireworks and mattress sales?
    In this hour, the History Guys explore the origins and curiosities of July 4th. They reveal the holiday’s radical roots, and look how the Declaration’s meaning has changed over time. They also consider how the Declaration’s messages about liberty and equality have been embraced by the descendents of slaves. And, as always, they take calls from BackStory listeners looking to the past to understand the America of today.
    Highlights Include:
    Historian Pauline Maier (“American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence”) contrasts the sections of the Declaration of Independence that mattered to the Founders with the sections that matter today.
    July 4th chronicler James Heintze (“The Fourth of July Encyclopedia”) recounts the early days of celebrating independence, with a special focus on explosives.
    Historian David Blight (“Frederick Douglass’ Civil War: Keeping Faith in Jubilee”) analyzes Frederick Douglass’ 1852 speech, “The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro,” widely known as one of the greatest abolitionist speeches ever…. – KUOW, 7-4-11
  • On the Fourth, a declaration we still must live up to: MORE THAN 130 British ships had set sail from Nova Scotia on June 9, on their way to the rebellious American colonies. The king of England had hired thousands of German mercenaries. The British penalty for treason was death and confiscation of one’s estate. These were some of the things on the minds of members of the Continental Congress as they met in Philadelphia to debate independence 235 years ago.
    “And yet,” writes the historian Pauline Maier, “as the British began to bring the greatest fleet and the largest army ever assembled in North America into action against the Americans, Congress devoted the better part of two days to revising the draft declaration of Independence. Wars, it understood, were not won by ships and sailors and arms alone. Words, too, had power to serve the cause of victory.”
    The Declaration of Independence, which we celebrate today, wasn’t even an official act of government. The Continental Congress had voted for independence on July 2. The July 4 Declaration, drafted mostly by Thomas Jefferson, was meant as inspiration for the soldiers and to justify and explain a drastic action against the crown to a divided and worried public. To be cynical about it, it was in some ways an early exercise in spin control, especially in its over-the-top excoriation of King George III’s alleged offenses. But in time it became — to use the title of Professor Maier’s 1997 book on the subject — “American Scripture,” with an impact on the national consciousness that far exceeded its revolutionary role….. – WaPo, 7-4-11
  • Victor Davis Hanson: America trusts its citizens: Putting confidence in individuals, and not the state or the bureaucracy, is what makes the U.S. an exceptional nation.
    For the last 235 years, on the Fourth of July, Americans have celebrated the birth of the United States, and the founding ideas that have made it the most powerful, wealthiest, and freest nation in the history of civilization.
    But today, there has never been more uncertainty about the future of America – and the anxiety transcends even the dismal economy and three foreign wars. President Obama prompted such introspection in April 2009, when he suggested that the United States, as one of many nations, was not necessarily any more exceptional than others. Recently, a New Yorker magazine article sympathetically described our new foreign policy as “leading from behind.”
    The administration not long ago sought from the United Nations and the Arab League – but not from Congress – authorization to attack Moammar Gadhafi’s Libya. Earlier, conservative opponents had made much of the president’s bows to Chinese and Saudi Arabian heads of state, which, coupled with serial apologies for America’s distant and recent past, were seen as symbolically deferential efforts to signal the world that the United States was at last not necessarily preeminent among nations.
    Yet there has never been any nation even remotely similar to America. Here’s why. Most revolutions seek to destroy the existing class order and use all-powerful government to mandate an equality of result rather than of opportunity – in the manner of the French Revolution’s slogan of “liberty, equality and fraternity” or the Russian Revolution’s “peace, land and bread.”… – PA Inquirer, 7-4-11
  • Around America, a spirited Fourth: In the nation’s capital, revelers celebrated the Fourth at the Mall in Washington. Festivities included a parade and fireworks.
    President Barack Obama thanked U.S. service members and their families Monday by hosting them on the South Lawn of the White House for a patriotic cookout and fireworks display.\ “After all that you do for our country every day, we wanted to give you guys a chance to get out of uniform, relax and have some fun,” Obama said.
    And fun was the order of the day as Americans celebrated Independence Day around the nation with flags, fireworks and food.
    Monday evening, revelers along the Hudson River readied for the Macy’s annual fireworks show, which usually attracts around 2 million people each year.
    In Washington, a display on the National Mall was scheduled to light up the night sky with the Lincoln Memorial as a backdrop.
    In key states around the nation, GOP presidential hopefuls for 2012 spent the day meeting with supporters at various events.
    Meanwhile, the rest of us settled in for a summer day as, well, American, as apple pie…. – CNN, 7-4-11
  • July 4th Menus in Years Past: July 4th cake Our idea of what types of food to serve on July 4th is pretty clear: hamburgers, hot dogs, salads, and a red-white-and blue dessert, perhaps, like the festive cake pictured.
    But how was Independence Day celebrated in the early days of the new republic? Food historian Sandra Oliver has delved into the past for answers, and was happy to share her findings with Epicurious.
    The news of Independence took time to trickle down through the country, she says, and celebrations were low-key local observances. “That’s pretty much the case for the first 30 or 40 years or so,” says Oliver…. – Epicurious, 7-4-11
  • Charles Cohen: History Bits About the Declaration of Independence and Its Main Author: For this July 4th Independence Day, we asked a historian to share a few stories about the Declaration of Independence and the people who drafted it.
    Charles Cohen, a professor of history and religious studies at U-W Madison, says there was genius behind Thomas Jefferson and others who crafted the document establishing the United States.
    But Cohen says misconceptions have also arisen about the Declaration and its authors…. – WUWM, 7-4-11Download Mp3
  • Some of the signers are obscure but Declaration of Independence endures: When you set off fireworks this holiday, remember to say “thanks” to William Whipple. Or tip your hat to Caesar Rodney as you throw hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. William who? Caesar what? Not exactly household names are they? But without them, and 54 other men like them, people wouldn’t have July 4 off from work, much less a country.
    At a crucial time 235 years ago, those 56 men signed their names to the Declaration of Independence, telling King George III theywere “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.” The document was a momentous step, and the signers were the movers and shakers of their time. Yet, history has not been kind to many of them.
    “Some are well remembered, but the rest of them unfortunately go down in history as footnotes,” said Broome County Historian Gerald Smith…. – Press Connects, 7-3-11
  • What does our “Declaration of Independence” really mean?: Shocked again! Did YOU hear the news report that only 58% of us (Americans) know when our Declaration of Independence was signed on TV news last evening? The TV report continued to announce that a quarter of us (Americans) do NOT know from whom our founders declared INDEPENDENCE! Do YOU know?
    And now it is dawning the 4th of July 2011, the 235th anniversary of our DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE from GREAT BRITIAN. Did YOU know 1776 was the year? Did YOU know that GREAT BRITAIN was the “mother country” from which we did declare our INDEPENDENCE?
    The BRITISH “Daily Mail” online specifically puts its focus on our lack of knowledge as to whom we declared our INDEPENDENCE from, “While 76 per cent correctly said Great Britain, 19 per cent were unsure, and 5 per cent mentioned another country.”… – Gazette Extra, 7-4-11
  • Eric Slauter: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: How did these words become the most important in the Declaration of Independence? The answer starts with a small band of motivated Americans.
    In America’s revolutionary history, no document is more iconic than the Declaration of Independence, the short but sweeping statement issued by Congress on July 4, 1776, severing bonds with Britain and launching the Colonies on their path to independence.
    But what does the Declaration of Independence actually declare? For most Americans today, the answer is embodied in the opening sentence of the second paragraph: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.�
    Perhaps no sentence in American history is better known or has had a greater impact than these powerful words about equality and rights. It is no wonder then that schoolchildren memorize this sentence, that adults consider it the founding creed of America’s civil religion, or that this and other newspapers will highlight these words on their editorial pages tomorrow…. – Boston Globe, 7-3-11
  • Steven Greiert: History lesson Nation’s Founding Fathers had plenty of blemishes: Dr. Steven Greiert, a history professor at Missouri Western State University, said a surprising number of people confuse the Declaration of Independence with the Constitution, which came more than a decade later.
    “I think it’s very important that Americans spend time looking at the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to really understand what went on at that time,” Dr. Greiert said. “Know the difference between the two documents.”
    The document that declared the states independent from British rule meant something different to the men who drafted it than what it means to citizens today. “All men are created equal” was written by men who owned slaves, and nearly 100 years before the 15th amendment, which prohibits denying a person (male) the right to vote on “account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.”
    “What they really were saying was that all white men should have equal opportunity,” Dr. Greiert said of the drafters, many of whom were wealthy landowners. Women wouldn’t be considered “equal,” where voting was concerned, until 144 years after the Declaration of Independence was written…. – News Press Now, 7-4-11
  • Michael Steiner: History lesson Nation’s Founding Fathers had plenty of blemishes: Dr. Michael Steiner, a history professor at Northwest Missouri State University, references the study of historian Richard Shenkman, who said the public has a hard time accepting that the Founding Fathers “stooped to playing politics.” The public might also have a hard time swallowing that the founders didn’t approve of a popular vote for presidential elections.
    “Less well known is that the Founding Fathers didn’t particularly want the Electoral College to make the decision either,” wrote the author. “The expectation was that in most cases the electors would deadlock, throwing the contest into the House of Representatives.”
    Dr. Steiner said the more his students read about the Founding Fathers, the more human the drafters become.
    “And I believe that’s a good thing,” he said. “We create this mythic infallibility around them that is simply inaccurate. We want them to be better than they were. But they were normal living and breathing human beings like you and me. Thank goodness.”… – News Press Now, 7-4-11

Gordon S. Wood: How the Complete Meaning of July Fourth Is Slipping Away

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

Source: The New Republic, 7-4-11

Gordon S. Wood is Alva O. Way University Professor Emeritus at Brown University and the author, most recently, of Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815.

At least one of the Founders thought that Independence Day would become important. When the Continental Congress voted for independence on July 2, 1776, John Adams, who more than any other single Founder was responsible for that vote, was ecstatic. America’s declaring of independence from Great Britain, he told his wife Abigail, marked “the most memorable Epocha in the History of America.” He hoped that the day would be “celebrated by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated,” he said, “as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one end of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

Although Adams was wrong about the day (two days later on July 4 the Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence), he was right about the celebrations, at least through much of our history. For us today July Fourth is still an important holiday, and we can be thankful that no one is suggesting that we move it the closest Monday. Yet the day no longer seems to have the solemnity and significance that Adams hoped it would have. To be sure, we have lots of parades, games, and fireworks, but much of the meaning of these festivities seems to have slipped away from us.

This is too bad, for July Fourth, 1776, is not only the most important day in American history, but because the United States has emerged as the most powerful nation the world has ever known, it is surely one of the most important days in world history as well. The Declaration legally created the United States of America. It announced to a “candid world” that Americans were assuming “among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitle them.” But it did much more than that. It stated all governments everywhere were supposed to derive “their just powers from the consent of the people,” and that when any one of these governments became destructive of the people’s rights and liberties, the people could alter or abolish that government and institute a new one….READ MORE

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