This is truly an amazing country.
While American soldiers on the other side of the world are risking their lives to keep terrorists off the shores of the United States, our stateside safety allows us to disagree - often disagreeably.
The U.S. Supreme Court has helped draw sharp divisions with rulings on displays of the Ten Commandments, over property rights and regarding flag-burning. Locally, we've disagreed about a new arena, argued over school problems - and even quibbled about the state's flag.
Yet no matter how divisive or how contentious these issues get, we still manage to be non-violent about it most of the time, even though the arguments often are carried out very publicly through the pages of the newspaper or across radio, TV or the Internet.
This right to agree and disagree didn't just come by accident. Look at the countries our armed forces have liberated in the war on terror: Afghanistan was a nation ruled by the Taliban, who ran a hard-line theocracy with no tolerance for dissent. Yet its people are now enjoying unprecedented freedom, including the freedom for those who wish to maintain their Muslim conservatism. And then there's Iraq, which is slowly shrugging off decades of corrupt family dictatorship in favor of free and open elections.
Our soldiers didn't go to those nations to spread a vision of world domination; to the contrary, their primary message is one of the benefits of individual freedoms that all United States citizens enjoy - including the freedom to argue, endlessly, about whether America's soldiers should be fighting to secure those freedoms for others, and by doing so keeping us safer here at home.
On this Independence Day weekend, the celebration of the nation's 229th birthday, we salute the freedom to enjoy the summertime leisure made possible by the sacrifice of our soldiers overseas, and by all the nation's veterans who gave of themselves for our benefit.
May God bless America, still the land of the free.
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