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Susan Collins

Celebrating America's Independence
By Senator Susan Collins
Jun 30, 2006 - 4:55:00 PM

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Senator Susan M. Collins represents the State of Maine in the U.S. Senate.
Independence Day is the birthday of the United States as a free and independent nation. But the day has become best known as the "Fourth of July," the date on which the holiday annually falls.

The Fourth of July is enjoyed by people of all ages.  From the small child attending his or her first fireworks display to the grandparent's continued enjoyment of the brilliant displays of color in the night sky -- this holiday is important to each and every American.

One of my favorite parts of the holiday are the parades held in communities large and small. Mainers are fortunate to be able to enjoy wonderful Fourth of July celebrations in communities around our state, from Bangor, to Eastport, to Winslow, Boothbay, and Sanford and so many towns and cities in between. During the parades, the fireworks, and the family cookouts, it is important to remember the significance of Independence Day.

We, American citizens, enjoy many freedoms. These freedoms began more than 200 years ago. At that time, the people of the 13 British colonies were at war over what they considered unjust treatment by the King of England. Eventually, the colonists realized that they were fighting not just for better treatment; they were fighting for freedom from England's rule.

Our independence began with the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia. That day, our forefathers joined Thomas Jefferson, the author of this important document, in declaring that all men are created equal and are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights," including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We must never take for granted the liberties bestowed upon us by the Declaration of Independence. It gave us the power to be a democratic nation.

The word "democracy" is defined as a government by the people, the rule of the majority. This thriving democracy is what our forefathers fought to establish. As Americans, we are proud of the privileges granted us by the Bill of Rights, part of the United States Constitution. Along with rights come responsibilities, such as preserving, protecting, and defending our democracy.

Voting is one of these important rights and responsibilities. Voting is important to the quality, and even the survival, of our democratic system. It is the most fundamental form of participation in the political process. I urge all citizens to cast their ballots on each election day. Through voting, your voice can be heard.

On this Independence Day, we should take some time to reflect and appreciate the freedoms we enjoy every day in America, and remember that they are due to the efforts of many brave Americans. May we never lose this precious gift called "Independence."

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