To the people of the United States:
Our country sets aside a few days each year to recognize those who have served.
On Memorial Day, we pay tribute to the fallen. On Armed Forces Day, we salute those in uniform. On Veterans Day, America says, “Thank you for your service.”
This Independence Day, we veterans would like to say, “Thank you for the opportunity.”
Thank you for building a nation worth defending.
We are a big, messy family. Often dysfunctional. Frequently divided. And yet with our differences in religion, politics, and ethnicity, in times of greatest crisis we can rise as one. Because when we are shaken hardest, we remember who we really are:
A nation built on ideas. Not tribes or clans. Not royalty or nobility.
A nation that for all its flaws and blemishes stands as a unique and inspiring example in the course of human history.
A nation in which even during the most bitter election seasons, we remain committed to the constitutional order that governs our political system, regardless of the result. No matter how elated or disappointed we are when votes are tallied, we live with it, move on, and give thanks that our votes are tallied. We know that whether we support or oppose those in power, our fellow citizens, even those on the other side, will defend our right to make our case to the public.
As veterans, we swore to defend the Constitution by force of arms if necessary. And as citizens, you defend it each day by force of example. Both forms of defense are essential to the preservation of our liberties and our form of government.
Wearing the uniform of our country in your service was the greatest honor of our lives. If we had the chance, we would do it all again. Not for gain, not for adventure, not for glory. But because you are worth it.
One special aspect of military life is the opportunity to work closely with Americans you never would have met otherwise. People of different backgrounds and beliefs. Whatever personal prejudices people might bring to the job in the beginning, focusing on a common mission usually makes them work past them. That’s something worth thinking about on Independence Day.
We became one nation because we decided to be one. Let’s make that decision again. We have 364 other days to squabble about being different types of Americans. How about taking one day just to celebrate being American?
Once again, thank you America. For being who you are. For doing what you do.
And for the opportunity to serve you.
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