On Independence Day, Americans celebrate the birth of our nation, pay tribute to our nation’s founders and honor the sacrifices made by our veterans, soldiers and their families.

Frank VanderSloot file

Frank VanderSloot

And it is a sacred time of reflection for the many lives that have been given to protect the freedoms that we now enjoy.

Unfortunately, some are condemning the founders of our great nation for their flaws and their mistakes. There seems to be a movement to vilify our beloved nation’s history because of its blemishes. I am shocked by the many reports of vandalism occurring at historic sites.

Absolutely, without question, we must make it clear in this country that hateful acts that deprive anyone of their basic freedoms, their dignity and their equal rights will simply not be tolerated. Every human being deserves the respect and basic freedoms afforded by the Constitution of the United States. There can be no tolerance for racial prejudice.

But now is not the time to erase history. Now is the time to learn from history — to focus on the greatest ideals ever conceived, to appreciate the sacred freedoms that we enjoy and, as a country, to move forward together and to be better because of it.

In 1776, 56 brave men solemnly put pen to parchment, signing the Declaration of Independence, which raised the curtain for the United States of America. In doing so, they pledged everything — their “lives, fortune, and sacred honor” — to open the greatest epoch of liberty that the world has ever seen.

And just like every one of us, every one of them had flaws and failings. Yet, despite this, the founders rose to the ultimate occasion to bring forth the Declaration of Independence and usher in history’s most impactful document: the Constitution of the United States.

Those brilliant men who framed the Constitution and who labored and argued over every word endowed all future citizens with rights never before experienced in any society. And those freedoms and rights have endured the test of time. The result is the most prosperous and the freest nation in the world.

Although brilliant and well-intended, these men were not perfect. They had many flaws, but their contribution to hundreds of millions of future Americans should cause us to defend their honor and defend the Constitution that they created and the great nation that is the result of their work and sacrifices.

The signers of the Declaration of Independence knew they would be relentlessly pursued by the crown, and, if the war was lost, they would be hanged as traitors. And they were right. Many of them paid a horrible price.

So yes, today we honor our founders, flaws, mistakes and all, whose courage and devotion sparked a mighty revolution. Those brave men and women fought for independence, for justice and for a world free from tyranny. They fought with words and ideas, with pen and parchment, with powder and musket. They fought for their homes, for their children and for future generations.

Let us also pay tribute to the countless American heroes who have answered the sacred call of duty to protect our homeland, liberate oppressed nations and eliminate global terror. We not only honor the 1.2 million Americans who have laid down their lives on our behalf during wartime but also all who have returned home having been wounded in combat.

Our freedom was paid by their total dedication to a greater cause as well as their actual blood, sweat and tears. Let us all be united in our responsibility to ensure the sacred torch of freedom is passed to the next generation. We do exactly that as we celebrate them on the day we know as the Fourth of July.