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Be proud of our freedom, thankful for opportunities

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.

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In a document uniquely crafted by Jefferson and approved by

Congress after heated debate on July 4, 1776, the following words

were inscribed:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created

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equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain

unalienable Rights, that among them are Life, Liberty and the pursuit

of Happiness.”

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

flourish.

In 1831, for example, French political scientist Alexis De

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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.

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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

summer months.

Perhaps because of the hard physical work they endured, my parents

encouraged their children to do what they had not: continue our

education.

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

of patriotism.”

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!

GUS GOMEZ

Glendale City Council


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