This morning I received the following letter from President Barack Obama:
This weekend, our family will join millions of others in celebrating America. We will enjoy the glow of fireworks, the taste of barbeque, and the company of good friends. As we all celebrate this weekend, let's also remember the remarkable story that led to this day.
Two hundred and thirty-three years ago, our nation was born when a courageous group of patriots pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to the proposition that all of us were created equal.
Our country began as a unique experiment in liberty -- a bold, evolving quest to achieve a more perfect union. And in every generation, another courageous group of patriots has taken us one step closer to fully realizing the dream our founders enshrined on that great day.
Today, all Americans have a hard-fought birthright to a freedom which enables each of us, no matter our views or background, to help set our nation's course. America's greatness has always depended on her citizens embracing that freedom -- and fulfilling the duty that comes with it.
As free people, we must each take the challenges and opportunities that face this nation as our own. As long as some Americans still must struggle, none of us can be fully content. And as America comes ever closer to achieving the perfect Union our founders dreamed, that triumph -- that pride -- belongs to all of us.
So today is a day to reflect on our independence, and the sacrifice of our troops standing in harm's way to preserve and protect it. It is a day to celebrate all that America is. And today is a time to aspire toward all we can still become.
With very best wishes,
President Barack Obama
July 4th, 2009
P.S. -- Our nation's birthday is also an ideal time to consider serving in your local community. You can find many great ideas for service opportunities near you at http://www.serve.gov.
One part in particular screamed out at me:
As free people, we must each take the challenges and opportunities that face this nation as our own. As long as some Americans still must struggle, none of us can be fully content.
As an active participant in our democracy working to lessen the burdens of the oppressed, I take the President's challenge seriously - and personally. I view it as his encouragement of my activism. In return, I request that the President provide those who participate in our democracy every protection our Constitution guarantees to challenge those policies with which we disagree.
I also ask the President to stand with us to end our government's collusion with war profiteers who create weapons of destruction and fill their coffers with our money. I ask the President to replace the obscenity of war with the audacity of peace. I ask the President to stand with us to put public interest above corporate greed, and to put our health above all else.
Mr. President, on this Fourth of July when you write to Americans and ask us to "take the challenges and opportunities that face this nation as our own," I remind you of a quote by Thomas Jefferson:
Liberty is to the collective body, what health is to every individual body. Without health no pleasure can be tasted by man; without liberty, no happiness can be enjoyed by society.
Mr. President, without health, Americans can't enjoy their liberty. Without health, our teachers can't teach and our learners can't learn. Without health, our parents can't parent. Without health, our builders can't build. Without health, our health practitioners can't practice. Without health, our society can't thrive.
Mr. President, since you claim it is your primary responsibility to protect the American people, as President you must be aware that private insurers place money values above human values. Our government has long sanctioned this practice, which Mr. President, should not be the American way. Private insurers and self-interested pharmaceutical companies are more a danger to Americans than the foreign governments and individuals our military engage. Americans who can't seek medical treatment because of lack of insurance battle the war of untended illness. Many die. This, Sir, should not be the American way.
Thomas Jefferson also said:
Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.
I accept your challenge, Mr. President, to participate in my democracy and to be as Mr. Jefferson said, a "safe depository" for our democracy. I will work hard to bring about much needed change and I expect the same of you.
If you stand with me, Mr. President, I will gladly stand with you. If you stand with our corporate oppressors -- then, Sir, you must be challenged.