On July 4, 1776, 56 delegates representing thirteen colonies gathered in the Pennsylvania State House, now known as Independence Hall, in Philadelphia. The room was a large, handsome chamber filled with oak furniture and ample natural light pouring in through the windows. Some of the delegates became known figures such as John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the document that was going to change history.
The delegates met to discuss the merits of the Declaration of Independence, knowing that endorsing it meant committing an act of treason against the British Crown. They also knew that a positive outcome could be the beginning of a free and independent nation built on the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
At some point in the day, the room grew quiet as the delegates verbally casted their votes. In the end, the result was unanimous. The voters in the room understood that their actions wouldn’t end the conflict, it was just the beginning. On July 4, 1776, 56 delegates, speaking on behalf of the thirteen colonies, pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their honor for what would soon become the United States of America.
Since that fateful day 247 years ago, millions of women and men, old and young, and people of all races and ethnicities, have pledged their lives, fortunes, and honor to keep our country strong, free, and independent. It has not always been easy, and we share the scars of mistakes and misfortunes, but it is still the place we call home.
Today, I wish all Americans happiness and prosperity in the pursuit of your dreams.
Happy Independence Day!