By Mike Lillis
President Obama on Friday brought in the July Fourth weekend with a hat-tip to the nation's founders and a hearty thanks to the nation's troops.
"You keep us safe," he said in his weekly radio address, "and you keep the United States of America a shining beacon of hope for the world."
He gave a healthy nod to the venerable document that turned 238 years old Friday: "We are all endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights; and that among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
And he credited the nation's adherence to that belief for making the United States what it is today.
"Over the years, that belief has sustained us through war and depression; peace and prosperity. It’s helped us build the strongest democracy, the greatest middle class, and the most powerful military the world has ever known," he said. "And today, there isn’t a nation on Earth that wouldn’t gladly trade places with the United States of America."
Yet Obama was also quick to warn that any successes have not come without great sacrifice, and a willingness to agitate for change.
"Our success is only possible because we have never treated those self-evident truths as self-executing. 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," he said.
"That’s why I want to say a special thanks to the men and women of our armed forces and the families who serve with them."
Obama will mark the holiday by naturalizing a number of immigrants who have served in the military but are not citizens.
"That's how much they love this country,” Obama said Monday during a press conference on immigration from the Rose Garden. “They were prepared to fight and die for an America they did not yet fully belong to. I think they’ve earned their stripes in more ways than one.”
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday that the event is "appropriate" for the commander-in-chief on the nation's birthday.
"Giving them the opportunity to be naturalized and to get their official U.S. citizenship on Independence Day I think is a pretty compelling story," Earnest said.
July 4 also marks the birthday of Obama's eldest daughter, Malia, who turned 16 on Friday.