Let us reflect on our nation's remarkable journey, which started as a country that sought freedom from British oppression over 4,000 miles away. Our nation’s founders, driven by enlightened thought, fought tirelessly for the most extraordinary human experiment in self-governance the world has ever known. Today, our men and women in the armed forces continue to serve with unwavering dedication to maintain this precious gift.

Thirteen colonies, under the thumb of a king an entire ocean away, took a courageous stand and declared independence against tyranny, a testament to the indomitable spirit of our nation.

The colonies became the United States and defeated the most powerful army the world had ever known. Inalienable rights were declared for all the world to hear. Those who courageously outlined the philosophical and practical grievances against King George became marked men, along with all sympathetic to the words penned on the Declaration of Independence’s five pages of parchment. The price of the birth of a new nation was blood, sweat, tears, and death. Enlightenment ideas and patriots' sacrifice formed a government of, by, and for the people that, above all else, must recognize and protect the God-given rights endowed to all.

While not a perfect union, America’s Independence Day began a journey towards a more perfect union. Since the sun set on the British flag and dawn first graced the stars and stripes of Old Glory, America has stood as the shining city on the hill for all to see. Today, the great nation we will celebrate once more on the Fourth of July remains a beacon of hope for the weary traveler—those who dream. As President Ronald Reagan once said, America is built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds, a testament to our resilience and diversity.

Reagan also spoke of living in harmony and peace. While it may not always appear to be true in this modern era of hyperpolarization, social media, and a news cycle with no clear beginning or end, we should count ourselves fortunate to live in a nation where our differences are debated, though feverishly, within the bounds of a constitution that—like the Declaration of Independence signed on July 2, 1776, and adopted on July 4—recognizes the rights endowed to all and provides a framework of government by which our differences can be settled.

Embracing this and our responsibilities as citizens of the United States is imperative.

What does citizenship truly mean?

Consider citizenship as legal status and a profound commitment to civic responsibility. Imagine it as a vibrant tapestry of rights and duties, where each citizen is a unique tile in the mosaic, representing a piece of the American spirit. It’s like donning a cloak woven from the threads of belonging, responsibility, and shared destiny. Imagine it as a passport to a grand carnival of civic engagement, where every citizen becomes a performer in the dance of the republic, adding their unique hue to the canvas of society. Each citizen's voice, when harmonized, has the power to build communities, shape policies, and weave the fabric of our nation's identity.

Despite our differences, we are united in our desire to achieve the American dream. Whether through service to others in the armed forces or the public sector, starting a family, becoming a homeowner, achieving higher education, or building a career, we are all part of the same narrative, the same dream of self-governance.

I hope you and your family have a safe, happy, and freedom-filled Independence Day!

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Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, represents the 16th Senate District, including Adair, Allen, Metcalfe, Monroe, and Taylor Counties and eastern Warren County. Wise co-chairs the Workforce Attraction and Retention Task Force. He is also the co-chair of the Interim Joint Committee on Economic Development and Workforce Investment and the Interim Joint Committee on Tourism, Small Business, and Information Technology. Additionally, he is a member of the Interim Joint Committees on Health Services; Families and Children; and Education. Wise is also a member of the Investments in IT Improvement and Modernization Projects Oversight Board.

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