President Barack Obama is celebrating Independence Day, the national holiday marking the birth of the United States of America 238 years ago.
In his weekly address to the nation, the president traced the history of the country back to the the nation's "founding fathers" -- the "farmers and businessmen, doctors and lawyers, ministers and a kite-flying scientist" who approved the new nation's Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
Then as now, the president said, the nation's leaders came from diverse backgrounds, "but they were united by a belief in a simple truth - that we are all created equal."
Obama repeated the Declaration's proclamation that all people have "inalienable" rights, including "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Those principles, he said, have sustained the United States through war and depression as well as peace and prosperity.
The concepts of liberty and equality, Obama added, "helped us build the strongest democracy, the greatest middle class, and the most powerful military the world has ever known."
"And today," Obama said, "there isn’t a nation on Earth that wouldn’t gladly trade places with the United States of America."
The president said the United States has succeeded in so many areas because "generations of Americans have marched, organized, petitioned, fought and even died to extend those rights to others; to widen the circle of opportunity for others; and to perfect this union we love so much."
Obama also thanked members of the American military, especially those serving abroad "on this most American of holidays," and said their efforts make the nation "a shining beacon of hope for the world."
On a more informal note, he also congratulated the U.S. Men's Soccer Team for its high standard of play at the World Cup in Brazil, and encouraged all Americans to enjoy traditional summertime recreation and have "a great Fourth of July weekend."