When fireworks fly, beer bottles clink and grills sizzle, it can only be one day: the Fourth of July. And while people across the country celebrate, it might be easy to forget exactly why we’re celebrating in the first place.
Independence Day was first celebrated on July 4, 1776. Two days before, a congress composed of delegates from all thirteen colonies — colonies under the control of the British King — voted for independence. On the fourth, they published the Declaration of Independence, the document that explained their decision to the world at large. It is for that document and what it came to symbolize that we celebrate.
If you need a little more patriotic inspiration, read on for 15 quotes that will remind you just why the Founding Fathers’ decision is worth revering each and every year:
“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” – John F. Kennedy
“Freedom is never dear at any price. It is the breath of life. What would a man not pay for living?” – Gandhi
“America is a nation with a mission — and that mission comes from our most basic beliefs. We have no desire to dominate, no ambitions of empire. Our aim is a democratic peace — a peace founded upon the dignity and rights of every man and woman.” – George W. Bush
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Nelson Mandela
“If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships — the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
“Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.” – Albert Einstein
“I believe with all my heart that America remains ‘the great idea’ that inspires the world. It is a privilege to be born here. It is an honor to become a citizen here. It is a gift to raise your family here, to vote here, and to live here.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
“The essence of America — that which really unites us — is not ethnicity, or nationality, or religion. It is an idea, and what an idea it is: that you can come from humble circumstances and do great things.” – Condoleezza Rice
“We, the people, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.” – Barack Obama
“You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” – Malcolm X
“Be courageous. I have seen many depressions in business. Always America has emerged from these stronger and more prosperous. Be brave as your fathers before you. Have faith! Go forward!” – Thomas Edison
“Only in America can someone start with nothing and achieve the American Dream. That’s the greatness of this country.” – Rafael Cruz
“There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured with what is right in America.” – Bill Clinton
“America was established not to create wealth, but to realize a vision, to realize an ideal — to discover and maintain liberty among men.” – Woodrow Wilson
“For what avail the plough or sail, or land or life, if freedom fail?” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Keep one, a few, or all of these quotes in mind at this year’s Fourth-of-July barbecue and raise your glass just a little bit higher to the men who paved the way for the freedom you appreciate today.