In 1776, a young leader by the name of Thomas Jefferson was
charged with what one historian has described as the most momentous
assignment ever given in the history of America: the drafting of a
formal declaration of independence from Great Britain.
In a document uniquely crafted by Jefferson and approved by
Congress after heated debate on July 4, 1776, the following words
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
unalienable Rights, that among them are Life, Liberty and the pursuit
As many political commentators have noted, in the more than 200
years since the Declaration of Independence was adopted by Congress,
these principles of freedom and opportunity have continued to
In 1831, for example, French political scientist Alexis De
Tocqueville arrived in the United States to observe the American
“experiment."Tocqueville noted Americans’ love of freedom and called
America “the land of democracy.”
On this Fourth of July, I am proud that each of us can pursue our
own American dream in this land of opportunity. About 20 years ago,
my parents left behind a successful business as barber shop owners
and arrived in California in the hope of giving their children an
opportunity to succeed.
At first, my father was employed as a factory worker. Later, my
parents became seasonal cannery workers, packing tomatoes for
distribution throughout the United States. During other times of the
year, my parents labored as farm workers in the Salinas Valley,
picking walnuts, apricots, lettuce, strawberries and garlic. My
brothers, sisters and I joined our parents in the fields in the
Perhaps because of the hard physical work they endured, my parents
encouraged their children to do what they had not: continue our
I was the first member of my family to graduate from college.
After my graduation from Stanford University, I went on to graduate
from Stanford Law School. Since then, two of my siblings have
graduated from UC-Berkeley and one from UCLA. Some of my siblings
have served our country in the military. In the words of Secretary of
State Colin Powell, a retired general, they are “useful human beings,
useful to themselves, to their families and to their communities.”
Today, I am thankful for the opportunities our country makes
available to us, and feel indebted to this nation for these
privileges. Indeed, it is our duty to reflect on these rights and to
instill in the next generation an understanding and appreciation for
the responsibilities that freedom brings.
In his autobiography, “My American Journey,” Secretary of State
Powell details the intense pride he feels as he takes his first oath
to defend the Constitution of the United States. Then he adds: “We
live in a more cynical age today. We are embarrassed by expressions
Thanks to all those who have served our nation with all their
hearts, and with their lives, we remain free to express our opinions,
to practice our own religion and to petition our government for a
redress of grievances. America continues to be the land of
opportunity, unmatched by any other nation.
On this Fourth of July, we should be proud of our freedoms and be
thankful for the opportunities America offers.
Happy Fourth of July!
Glendale City Council