President Barack Obama began the Fourth of July weekend by saluting the nation's troops, The Hill reported.
"You keep us safe and you keep the United States of America a shining beacon of hope for the world," the president said of the nation's military in his weekly radio address Friday morning, according to The Hill.
Obama steered clear of politics, saying the nation's founding fathers were "farmers and businessmen, doctors and lawyers, ministers and a kite-flying scientist," and quoted the Declaration of Independence on its 238th anniversary, saying, "We are all endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights; and that among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
That credo, said Obama, has sustained the United States.
"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."
The nation's successes came with sacrifice, he said.
"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."
Later on Friday, the president plans to naturalize 25 people after a deputy secretary for Homeland Security delivers the oath of allegiance to them at a Rose Garden ceremony.
The group will include 15 active service members representing the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, as well as two veterans, one reservist and seven spouses, representing 15 different countries.
The ceremony comes as controversy climbs over the fate of thousands of children from Central America who have crossed the Mexico-U.S. border illegally in recent months. While Obama blames House Republicans for delaying immigration overhaul legislation, conservatives blame Obama and his policies.
Earlier this week, Obama warned that he plans to push forward himself with executive actions that could affect the nation's immigration policies, if Republicans continue to refuse legislation.
Today's ceremony will include a barbecue on the South Lawn with Obama and his wife, Michelle, and choice seating to watch fireworks on the National Mall Friday night.
The Associated Press also contributed to this report.
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