I’m sure many of you are putting the final touches on your Fourth of July plans. I’ll be headed to the fireworks at Panther Island Pavilion on the Trinity River with my family.
Firework displays are part of a long American tradition, as the first commemorative Independence Day fireworks were set off on July 4, 1777. Just one year prior, our Founding Fathers signed their names to the Declaration of Independence. While the British called their signing an act of treason, we celebrate it each Fourth of July as an unquestionable act of bravery.
American history books are packed with stories of bravery by not only our Founding Fathers, but also those who have served in our military and risked their lives to protect our unalienable Rights.
Our nation’s men and women in uniform are America’s greatest asset and the globe’s strongest defenders of freedom and democracy. I am proud to represent so many service members and I will never forget their service or the sacrifices made by their families.
It saddens me that there are so many stories of our veterans returning home to a system that does not support their needs. Unfortunately, far too many service members from our area have reached out to my office because they haven’t received the medical treatment they need to heal. We must come together as a country and ensure our returning veterans have the support they so richly deserve.
Additionally, veterans often return to face significant challenges in a civilian job market. I was glad to see that the post-9/11 veteran unemployment rate fell from 9.2 percent in April 2012 to 7.5 percent in April 2013. We still have progress to make – both for veteran employment as well as civilian – but I am grateful to the employers who help our veterans transition from military service to civilian life and strongly encourage others to follow their steps and hire these warriors – their skills have been battle tested.
On this day 150 years ago, the Battle of Gettysburg came to a close and marked a turning point in the Civil War. Months later, President Abraham Lincoln returned to that battlefield to dedicate Soldiers’ National Cemetery.
After reminding those attending of the reasons our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence four score and seven years earlier, the President urged others to follow in the footsteps of those who served and take an increased devotion to America’s cause: “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” We too must remain dedicated to that cause.
To all those serving in the armed forces and their families, thank you for your service to our country. Your bravery and sacrifice have made America the great beacon of freedom and democracy that it is today.
We all owe those who have served a great debt. Please take a moment this Independence Day to thank a veteran and their family for serving and have a happy and safe Fourth of July.
Member of Congress
July 3, 2013