WASHINGTON, D.C. - We celebrate today the signing of the Declaration of Independence -- the document that solidified the intent of our colonial states to form an independent country. The Revolutionary War was over a year old, and seven more hard-fought years passed before the Minutemen of old rejoined their families and livelihoods. I ask that you join me today as we remember the great cost of the freedoms we enjoy.The National Guard, alongside our fellow Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen, serves abroad today, fighting to secure peace for allies and partners in their own struggles for freedom from tyranny. Those deployed are joined in service by Guardsmen responding to a broad spectrum of missions -- from homeland defense to flood and wildfire response. Likewise, Guardsmen are deployed abroad, like those I am visiting today in Kosovo, who safeguard freedom as they build and sustain lasting security partnerships.No matter where you are serving or celebrating, today, take a moment to reflect on those who have served before you. Our proud nation is 243 years old today and endures with the fortitude of its citizens to strive for liberty. Keep yourselves, your families, and your battle buddy or wingman safe, so our National Guard stays strong and Always Ready, Always There.Sincerely,Joseph L. Lengyel General, U.S. Air Force Chief, National Guard Bureau