WASHINGTON, July 1, 2011 — This Independence Day we celebrate our Nation’s 235th birthday. As we enjoy all the traditions and pleasures this singularly American holiday has to offer, I also ask that we take a moment to remember those who have done so much to secure and safeguard our independence throughout our history.
Today, more than 200,000 Americans in uniform are deployed in harm’s way, protecting us. Their steadfast service reminds us that defending our Nation is not a “sometimes” thing, but a pursuit that requires persistent and disciplined commitment each day, every day. I remain profoundly grateful for the gifts of their service in far off, distant places and the sacrifice of the families who faithfully wait for their return.
During this decade of war, we have been reminded of another way we keep America’s promise to those who protect it — the care and support of our wounded warriors, their families, and the families of our fallen and missing in action. For many, their healing from wounds, both seen and unseen, will last a lifetime, and so must our commitment to them.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who shepherded our Nation through the Great Depression and World War Two, once said, “In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.” Today, we honor everything that Americans have done to earn and achieve that freedom.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff, their families, and Deborah and I wish every citizen a happy and safe Fourth of July. Happy Birthday America!
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)