We'll still have the fireworks and the concerts, the parades and the picnics. Some people will go out of town for a four-day weekend; others will stay behind to participate in local festivities. Still others will spend the Fourth of July holiday and the weekend working so that the rest of us can enjoy our leisure time to the fullest. All the same, there's no doubt about it—tomorrow will be a Fourth of July far different from any other in recent memory.
It is customary to reflect on past conflicts on days set aside for the purpose such as the Fourth of July. So should we this year, if for no other reason than to remember that more than 3,000 of our fellow countrymen found themselves on the front lines of a battle they had not known they—and we—were fighting until the moment when the war against the forces of evil reached our very thresholds.
On this Fourth of July 2002 we celebrate the start of this nation's fight for its independence from a mother country which threatened it with economic and political strangulation. At the same time, we acknowledge that we are once again at war. This time we do battle with a belief system that would destroy us. Despite the passage of more than two centuries America still must fight for its place in the world. All public events this year will have as their accompaniment phalanxes of police and other individuals charged with ensuring the public safety. Bags and containers will be checked to make sure they contain nothing that might bring an early and tragic end to the proceedings. Watchfulness will be the order of the day.
This year, more than ever, it seems appropriate to remind our readers and ourselves that our democracy functions because of the willingness of all our citizens to participate in the business of government. We cannot stress enough the necessity for all of us to accept the responsibility for our own safety and that of our neighbors by keeping alert and aware of our surroundings at a public event such as a concert or a fireworks display. We are obligated by the requisites of looking out for ourselves and one another by participating fully and willingly in measures in place to ensure the well-being of any and everyone in a given situation, such as random baggage searches at airport boarding areas. We cannot direct enough attention to the need for everyone who is eligible and able to do so to vote in whatever elections are looming.
We are still strong and we have every reason to believe that we will emerge from this present crisis stronger, safer and wiser than we were before September 11. As we embark on the 226th year of our country's existence, we know we will emerge triumphant. All we need is to continue to believe in our nation, our government and ourselves.