From President Reagan’s “Message on the Observance of Independence Day, 1981”:
Today, all over America, families and friends are reuniting to renew ties, enjoy each other’s company, and celebrate our Nation’s birthday. It is a day when liberty and laughter go hand-in-hand—when we can acknowledge that, oh yes, we have our faults, and lots of problems, too, but we’re happy and proud because we’re free, and we know the best of America is yet to be. . . .
Back in 1776, John Adams wrote his wife Abigail that the anniversary of our independence should be observed with great fanfare: “. . . with pomp and parades . . . shows and games . . . and sports and guns and bells . . . with bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, and from this time forevermore.”
Well, Mr. Adams, rest assured that what you wanted is being done. Your traditions are now ours, and we guard them like national treasures. And you know why. When we unfurl our flags, strike up the bands, and light up the skies each July 4th, we celebrate the most exciting, ongoing adventure in human freedom the world has ever known.
What makes our revolution unique and so exciting . . . is that it changed the very concept of government. Here was a new nation telling the world that it was conceived in liberty; that all men are created equal with God-given rights, and that power ultimately resides in “We the people.”
We sometimes forget this great truth, and we never should, because putting people first has always been America’s secret weapon. It’s the way we’ve kept the spirit of our revolution alive—a spirit that drives us to dream and dare, and take great risks for a greater good. It’s the spirit of Fulton and Ford, the Wright brothers and Lindbergh, and of all our astronauts. It’s the spirit of Joe Louis, Babe Ruth, and a million others who may have been born poor, but who would not be denied their day in the Sun.
Well, I’m convinced that we’re getting that spirit back. The Nation is pulling together. We’re looking to the future with new hope and confidence—and we know we can make America great again by putting the destiny of this Nation back in the hands of the people. And why shouldn’t we? Because, after all, we are Americans.