Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta's Independence Day Message
“On this Independence Day, I would like to extend my gratitude and best wishes to our entire military family: our men and women in uniform who serve around the world, and their families, and our Department of Defense civilians who support them, and their families. On this day, we honor all of you for your service and the many sacrifices you make to defend our freedom.
“While many Americans will spend this holiday with family and friends enjoying summer weather, fireworks, and outdoor barbeques, others will be on the front lines defending our country. Today, in particular, the American people pay tribute to those of you deployed overseas for your strength, your courage, and your willingness to put your lives on the line to protect this country.
“It was 236 years ago that our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. Since then, succeeding generations of Americans have stepped forward to safeguard the liberties that our founders fought to give us. That was true 200 years ago during the War of 1812, when we first defended our young nation from attack, and has remained true whenever freedom has been threatened in the generations since.
“Today, our brave men and women in uniform continue to protect our freedoms that were first outlined in that Declaration. They serve our nation proudly and they are willing to put their lives on the line so that our children can have a better future.
“As we celebrate the birth of our nation, it is a time for our leaders and every American to recognize that the blessings of freedom we enjoy are not free -- they come from a legacy of sacrifice, courage, and leadership. That legacy is now our responsibility to fulfill -- so that our children can enjoy a better life.
“May God bless you, may God bless our military, and may God bless this great nation.”