Guest colum: Celebrating independence, what it means

Published 9:00 am Sunday, July 3, 2016

Guest Column by Amy Klobuchar

All across our state, Minnesotans are gathering with family and friends to celebrate the Fourth of July. There will be picnics, parades, and — of course — lots of fireworks.

It’s good fun, and it’s for a great reason — to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and to give thanks that American patriots were brave enough to risk everything in order to found a new nation.

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Our founders knew something that still holds true today: Doing the right thing isn’t always easy. As the 13 colonies discovered, sometimes you end up in a war with one of the most powerful nations on earth. Other times, you end up defending yourself against people who strongly disagree with your views. In either case, it takes commitment and it takes courage.

Amy Klobuchar

Amy Klobuchar

As we celebrate our independence, it’s easy to feel like the state of our union is frayed around the edges. How to strengthen our economy, how best to engage with the rest of the world — these are important issues. And sometimes it’s easy to see only the divisions.

But as we celebrate what it means to be American, it’s a good time to remember that, as at our founding, there still is and always will be more that holds us together than tears us apart.

During that hot summer of 1776, the Continental Congress asked Thomas Jefferson to draft a declaration of American independence. From his pen emerged one of the most consequential documents in world history.

The power of his words helped forge a nation. And it still provides a potent reminder of what it means to be an American.

Americans believe that people should govern themselves. That we are all created equal. That life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable rights. These are the truths that members of our military have defended throughout our history. These are the truths that we all stand up for today.

So as we celebrate our nation’s independence, let’s thank those who have served and sacrificed for our nation. And second, let’s respect one another. We won’t always agree. But we can always approach our differences with open minds and the willingness to listen to our fellow Americans. After 240 amazing years, we’ve earned that, together.

I wish all Minnesotans a happy and memorable Fourth of July.


Senator Amy Klobuchar is the senior U.S. Senator from Minnesota.