Many years ago, one of my heroes, Thomas Paine, wrote, "These are the times that try mens' souls." He was speaking of the turmoil in the American colonies, at the time, among our ancestors in their struggle for independence from British rule.  Because of their struggles, sacrifices, and hard-fought battles the outcome is now history . . . on July 4, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was signed and we have long since enjoyed its "unalienable rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

Today, during all of our partying and festivities, let's not forget why we are celebrating. Please take just a couple of seconds and say a short prayer of thanks to all of those who made our great journey of "freedom, life, liberty, and our pursuits of happiness" possible.

Though our current times "try our souls" it's the 224 years of freedom which give us our sense of pride and nationalism . . . and make us so strong.