"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same." -- Ronald Reagan

The definition of freedom, according to Merriam-Webster, is "the quality or state of being free: such as the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action; or liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another."

It has been more than 240 years since our founding fathers signed our country's Declaration of Independence, establishing that this nation was no longer under British rule. It was a hard-fought battle to win our freedom, with many making the ultimate sacrifice in establishing our independence.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." -- First Amendment

Attending the church of our choice. Reading newspapers with reports and opinions of governmental actions. Gathering people in one place to support or oppose an issue. Having a day in court or a voice before a government entity.

We are able to do these things without fear of punishment or retaliation from our leaders, which sets us far apart from many other countries.

And while we celebrate our country's birthday on July 4, and all the freedoms we possess, it can't be denied the struggle to retain them and create others has continued -- and will continue -- over the decades.

Those before us have fought to abolish slavery, to ensure voting rights of all citizens, to establish guarantees of equal opportunities in employment and education.

And we fight to keep foreign powers from wresting freedoms from us and those on other lands.

Celebrating our Independence Day is something we have all come to expect as routine. But as part of those celebrations, we must remember to cherish what we have and continue to strive for others to have the same.

Because we are free we can never be indifferent to the fate of freedom elsewhere. Our moral sense dictates a clearcut preference for these societies which share with us an abiding respect for individual human rights. We do not seek to intimidate, but it is clear that a world which others can dominate with impunity would be inhospitable to decency and a threat to the well-being of all people. -- President Jimmy Carter, Inaugural Address, Jan. 20, 1977