At a critical moment during the Revolutionary War, when his army was surrounded and in danger of being destroyed, General Washington issued this order: "Put only Americans on guard tonight." Washington knew, at that moment of crisis, he could rely on those citizen-soldiers-volunteers who had left behind their families and farms to risk everything for the cause of freedom.
Thanks to their service and sacrifice, America achieved her independence. And every July 4th since, Americans have come together to give thanks for our freedom and what our country has become: the freest, most creative and dynamic nation on earth.
This Fourth of July across America, families will enjoy picnics, and parades, and the uplifting beat of "Stars and Stripes Forever." But our celebrations are tempered by the knowledge that the freedoms we hold sacred and dear have once again come under attack.
So today, as in General Washington's time, we take comfort in the knowledge that Americans like you are on guard tonight -- soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen.
Like the Minute Men who dropped their pitchforks and took up rifles to defend their new nation in 1776, each of you stepped forward to defend America against the new threats of this new century.
Through your service and sacrifice, you help make every day Independence Day for the United States of America. Our people are free because your hearts are brave. And so on this Fourth of July, we stop to say to each of you: Thank you for what you do for our country.