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{a href=" http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AFourth_of_July_fireworks_behind_the_Washington_Monument%2C_1986.jpg "}By Camera Operator: SSGT. LONO KOLLARS, via Wikimedia Commons{/a}

Across America, families and friends will come together for parties, picnics, concerts, and fireworks to celebrate our nation’s independence.

As we pause from our busy schedules to pay tribute to the brave men who put their lives in peril for our freedom, we find our nation facing many serious challenges: the economy, the restructuring of healthcare, and immigration reform. The next election will be about the future direction of our country and the role government will play.

Living in the United States is a great privilege. Being a citizen of this great nation is an honor.

We should take great comfort in the fact that We The People have the resolve and innovative spirit to tackle each of these challenges and succeed.

© 2012 John Gregory Self