INDEPENDENCE DAY, COMMONLY known as the Fourth of July, commemorates the passage of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress July 4, 1776. That was 244 years ago, this Saturday.

This weekend reminds us that being an American offers us incredible opportunities, but it also places upon us responsibilities. While we’re all proud to be Americans, what that means to each of us can be significantly different. The system we live under isn’t perfect, but the second-best system isn’t worth considering.

As we celebrate our nation’s freedom, we honor the courageous men and women dedicated to preserving it. America is a nation where the spirit of pride, greatness and honor is common to every soul. Patriotism is easy to understand in America. It means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country.

Many countries around the world have walls and borders to keep their people in. In 2019, an estimated 65 million people were forced to flee their chaotic native lands, according to the United Nations. Americans can leave almost at will. We’re more concerned with an orderly flow of immigrants.

America was built on the ideals of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Even the founders didn’t agree on everything and they couldn’t foresee all the possible problems we’d face. Even with all the discourse, there is more that binds us together than divides us.

The declaration was drafted between June 11 and June 28, by Thomas Jefferson in consultation with fellow committee members John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and William Livingston. The Congress voted in favor of the document July 2, but most historians believe it was actually signed Aug. 2, according to government archive records.

Many people believe the Declaration of Independence is the nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty and Jefferson’s most enduring work. Jefferson expressed the convictions in the minds and hearts of the American people.

Today, America’s population is approximately 330 million. That population represents a wide array of immigrants with many cultures that have little connection to the ideals of our nation’s founders. Is it any wonder we have the divisions we have? Maybe 100 million Americans don’t share our ancestry.

The political philosophy 244 years ago was not new. Its ideals of individual liberty had already been expressed by John Locke. Jefferson summarized this philosophy in self-evident truths and set forth a list of grievances against the king of England.

Over the years, people were drawn to celebrate July 4 because two of the signers, Adams and Jefferson, died July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the declaration. Another president, James Monroe, died July 4, 1831, and Calvin Coolidge was born July 4, 1872.

This time of celebration is a good time to remember you do not need to keep anything for a special occasion because every day that you live is a special occasion. Use this time to commit to healing our nation’s wounds. It’s a time for forgiveness and unity.

Search for knowledge, read more, sit on your deck or patio and admire the view and beauty that surrounds us. Pass more time with your family, eat your favorite foods, visit the places you love while keeping a safe distance.

Remember, life is a chain of moments of enjoyment. It isn’t only a battle for survival. Take out from your vocabulary phrases that others might find offensive. Write a letter that you promised to write one of these days.

Let’s tell our families and friends how much we love them. Say hello to a stranger and encourage them to keep the faith, our current problems won’t last forever. Do not delay anything that adds laughter and joy to your life.

Every day, hour and minute is special, and you don’t know if it will be your last.