July 4, 2007 marks our nation's 231st year of independence. Traditionally, America celebrates the 4th of July with family picnics, community parades, patriotic concerts and colorful fireworks. This year, as you commemorate the birthday of our great nation, I would ask that each of you in uniform pause and consider the personal role you - and the generations before you - have played in America's freedom.

As our nation celebrates Independence Day, many of you will miss the family gatherings and hometown parades. You stand guard protecting the freedoms we all cherish. With a full understanding of exactly what service to this nation means, you continue to serve with exceptional courage and selflessness. Many of you face deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan for a second, third, or even fourth time - yet you remain committed to making a difference.

To you - and to your Families who sacrifice and serve as well as anyone in uniform - you have my heartfelt thanks and best wishes for a happy and safe Independence Day.

The Joint Chiefs and I are privileged to serve alongside you and we are forever grateful for your commitment that this holiday honors.

With Great Respect

Peter Pace
General, U.S Marine Corps
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff