It was a courageous act for those who signed the Declaration of Independence to stand up to the tyranny of King George in defense of their "unalienable rights." Yet still they stood up, knowing that human rights are just too important to give up.
They were patriots. They stood up for what they knew was best for the people.
My question for you in 2008 is, do you have that same courage - the courage to be a patriot and do right by our country? And what are you going to do for our country to make it live up to its ideals?
What does patriotism mean to you? Most of us will say that a patriot is someone who wants the best for your country. And most of you who read this strongly agree that patriotism is not about merely wearing an American flag lapel pin or sticking a 'Support the Troops' magnet on your car or attending your community's Fourth of July festivities.
Because patriotism is about so much more than what you want, believe, or say. It’s about what you do.
Being patriotic means you serve your country in some capacity. My utmost gratitude goes to all of you who have worn the uniform of this nation in the armed services. Likewise, I thank those of you who have served as firefighters, police officers, and the like. If military and police/fire service is not your calling, have you considered running for office? What about the Peace Corps or Americorps? Take Barack Obama's advice and find some way to serve our country.
Being patriotic means you do right by every citizen of this nation, because you understand that America is nothing without its people. While millions of Americans are celebrating this Fourth of July at a barbecue with family and friends, millions more are spending the holiday without food, family, or friends - be it in Iraq or in the streets and slums of this country. Have you helped out at your local soup kitchen? Have you given away some of your old clothes that you won't use again? Have you sent something through AnySoldier.com?
Being patriotic means you work to give this nation dedicated leaders at all levels. Leaders who themselves are patriots dedicated to setting our nation on the right course and are even willing to put their reputation on the line for our country. I'm getting very involved in this campaign season here in Michigan to help ensure that Barack Obama will lead our nation next Independence Day. I do so out of a conviction that Obama offers by far the best chance for restoring integrity and honor to the White House.
Being patriotic means you hold our leaders accountable. Have you called your lawmakers and asked them to oppose telecom immunity in FISA? Have you shared with them your thoughts on election reform, the environment, or our crumbling infrastructure?
And of course, being a patriot is about so much more than what I mention here.
As I said a year ago:
In this time when our basic freedoms are being attacked, each of us must take responsibility for doing our part to ensure that the cause of liberty is not destroyed in our great Republic. Because as much as Bush and his cabal try to ruin the Republic, the fact remains, this is still our country.
As we celebrate the 232nd birthday of this nation, let us do so with that same commitment that guided our founders in 1776. There are more than 300,000,000 of us Americans, and we won't all agree on what exactly is best for our country. But unless each of us does our part for our country, how can we expect our America to last another 232 years?