Prior to the outbreak of the COVID pandemic, one of my favorite opportunities as a Member of Congress was walking through the Rotunda with constituents on a tour of the Capitol. No matter how many groups we led through the House and Senate Chambers, walking through the hallowed halls, and looking at the artwork depicting some of our nation’s most important moments was always a humbling experience.

Among the numerous paintings displayed in the Capitol is the Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull. Although the 12-by-18-foot painting looms large in the Rotunda, we’ve all seen it in our school history books and it’s the reason that we’re celebrating this weekend. We are citizens of an independent nation, with all the freedoms that come with it. But just like the many depictions of liberty lining the halls of our Capitol, there are countless moments that have kept America free.

These moments aren’t just in our history books. They happen every day: when our Courts uphold our civil liberties, when service men and women put their lives on the line to defend our freedom. Our freedom and independence are always being tested, but we have always found the strength to band together and defended them.

America is a collection of ideas and values that set us apart from the rest of the world. We are committed to this experiment, and we’ve repeatedly decided as a nation to build on these freedoms endowed by our creator because future generations deserve the opportunities we have today, and more. And when we sometimes fall short of whatever we’re trying to accomplish, our values keep us consistent, resilient, and ultimately: one united nation under God.

Over the last 245 years, our nation has weathered turmoil and strife. It has been at war with itself and survived. No matter what the future holds, if we remain committed to the principles of freedom and opportunity, we will persevere. I wish you all a happy Independence Day and hope you will join me in working to usher in a brighter tomorrow for these United States of America.