Happy Birthday, America

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…”

Thus begins the famous document drafted by founding father Thomas Jefferson 238 years ago known as the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson, under directives from the Continental Congress, penned the fledgling nation’s statement of independence from Great Britain, which included 56 signers who were all aware of their impending deaths should America not win its war.

Each July 4th since, in some form or fashion, our country has celebrated the anniversary of that bold statement, starting with 13-gun salutes in 1777 and eventually as a permanent federal holiday in 1870. This year marks the 238th time we can say, “Happy birthday, America.”

Chiefly, the celebration reminds us of the sacrifices made because, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Secondly, it allows us to take stock of our nation’s collective accomplishments, how we should improve, and the hope we have for ourselves and future generations.

Legislatively, I’m thankful for the passage of three major bills since January 1 that are important to Arkansas’ First Congressional District. First, Congress pushed hard for the Agriculture Act of 2014 despite challenges that delayed the legislation for two years. This Act, known as the Farm Bill, secures our nation’s food supply, provides cheaper food to consumers, and offers nutrition assistance to those most in need; all while making reforms to our nation’s out-of-control spending habit. Second, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013, known as WRRDA, shows that we value our nation’s water supply and desire to conserve it while also utilizing what it has to offer. Third, the House passed the Veteran Access to Care Act of 2014 in response to the egregious oversight occurring within the Veterans Health Administration. This legislation will help ensure that no veteran goes without access to timely and quality medical care worthy of the great service they provided their country. We still have a ways to go to fix this latter issue, but that bill is a good start.

Personally, I’m thankful for a loving and supporting family — my wife Stacy, and my two kids, Will and Delaney. It’s truly the highlight of my week getting to come home to them. I cannot express how much I value those times together as a family.

So, as you join together with your family or loved ones this Independence Day, take stock of the things for which you’re thankful. And join me in whole-heartedly saying, “Happy birthday, America.”

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