The Fourth of July is one of the best holidays of the year:  a time for family and friends, fireworks, barbeques and celebrating the freedoms that allow us to vote, speak, work and worship as we please.

More than 200 years ago, 56 men risked life and limb simply by signing a document declaring the English colonies free from the rule of Great Britain. Though these men understood their actions in that summer of 1776 were significant, I doubt any of those Founding Fathers could have foreseen the full magnitude of the Declaration of Independence.

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Not only has the United States prospered for more than two centuries, the signing of that hallowed document was the first step in creating the first modern democracy. Soon, other countries would follow our lead, tossing off monarchies for rule by the people.

Franklin Roosevelt once noted that “freedom cannot be bestowed, it must be achieved.” Though previous generations have fought for our democracy and the freedoms we cherish, it is up to us to maintain those gifts. Independence Day is a day to remember the brave men and women who are doing just that.

In Oklahoma especially, we understand the cost of defending our country.  More than 2,800 men and women in the Oklahoma National Guard are overseas right now serving their country and the State of Oklahoma. Their courage, commitment and dedication preserve liberty for each of us.

This Independence Day, take a moment to remember the sacrifices of the men and women in the armed forces and their families who give up so much to protect the freedoms we might too often take for granted.

We can never repay those who chose to serve our country, but we can keep them and their families in our thoughts and prayers this Independence Day-and every day.

If you have questions or comments, please write me at the Office of the Governor, Room 212, Oklahoma City OK 73105 or visit the “Contact the Governor” section of my website,

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