Independence Day is a day of gratitude Published June 27, 2016 By Gen. Ellen M. Pawlikowski Air Force Materiel Command Commander WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- The Fourth of July is a day of celebration. Whether with parades, fireworks, backyard barbecues or enjoying a baseball game, we Americans will soon celebrate our nation's birthday.Our founding fathers' vision of a free nation was commemorated in 1776 in the Declaration of Independence. They believed all people have certain undeniable rights - the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These rights are the foundation of our existence, and today we hold them dear as demonstrated by our service in protection of our country.As we recognize and celebrate the anniversary of the birth of our nation, let us give thanks for the vision our founding fathers had 240 years ago and give thanks also to all those who have served our country in defense of our independence.In the words of President Ronald Reagan, "Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation ..."I thank my AFMC family for its service and all it does every day to preserve America's independence.Happy birthday, America!