As we celebration our nation's founding, we have an opportunity to reflect on our history of liberty while calling attention to the many individuals and groups who strive to keep us free.
* The men and women currently serving in our armed forces deserve a special salute today from every American. Those who have served in the past and those who have died while in uniform are reminders of the cost of a great nation.
* We owe a special commendation to all who serve in various levels and branches of government and who strive to honor the constitutional foundation of our nation. Whether elected or appointed, our public servants are serving us in essential ways.
* To teachers everywhere we give a hearty salute for the guidance and instruction that give all Americans the underpinning of good citizenship.
* Our parents are due for special medals of commendation as the molder and models of what it means to be an American in a diverse land that is united by the spirit of democracy.
* Finally, those special individuals like Melvin Gateley, recipient of the Southeast Missourian's 2005 Spirit of America award, continue to show the rest of us that devotion to good causes that better the lives of others is time well-spent.
Happy Fourth of July.