Our Nation’s Birthday, Moment to Celebrate Democracy

By Congressman Sherrod Brown

Independence Day is an opportunity to commemorate the founding of our nation, as well as the promise that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are rights – not privileges.

Every American should have access to the tools needed to build a meaningful life.

Elementary students in Elyria deserve to learn from the latest text books. Grandparents in Grandview should never be forced to choose between buying medicine or a meal. And firefighters in Fairfield have earned the right to fight a fire with reliable, modern protective gear.

In a democracy, national priorities should reflect the needs of all citizens – not just the privileged.

Two hundred and thirty-five years after British subjects declared themselves United States citizens, Americans must continue the journey toward becoming a more perfect Union.

We’ve made tremendous strides in guaranteeing fundamental rights to education, health, and safety. Ohio established free, public education in 1825. Today – with the support of some $400 million in “Race to the Top Funds” – Ohio schools are working to build on proven models of success and to empower students with the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills needed to embark on 21st century careers.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, public health resources in Ohio were consumed by the fight against tuberculosis and the cholera epidemic. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, children can now remain on their parents’ health insurance until they reach 26 years of age. Seniors can receive annual wellness visits that will not only keep them healthier, but will also reduce costs by helping avoid illnesses. And we’re investing in preventive care and reforming our delivery system so that medical practitioners are rewarded for the outcome of their patients, not how many tests are ordered.

Public safety has also improved. In 1853, Cincinnati established the first fully-paid, professional fire department in the United States. It would take another decade for the first self-contained breathing apparatus to be invented. Today, professional firefighters can breathe safely while communicating with one another in a black, smoke-filled building.

Progress in our educational institutions, public health, and safety could not have happened without industrious Americans pushing for improvements. Time is not enough to usher in lasting change. It also takes human effort.

And, it is only with continued advocacy that we will be able to move closer to achieving a more perfect Union.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are easier to secure when everyone who wants to work has a job.

That is why America must reinvest in our most important industries. In Ohio, where agriculture remains our largest sector, we must continue to support small farmers and planters who deserve to carry on their family legacy of providing the food that feeds and fuels America.

Manufacturing is another critical industry for America – and our state. Ohio is home to more than 21,000 manufacturing companies. Three of the top twenty manufacturing cities in the U.S. are located in the Buckeye State. By establishing a National Manufacturing Policy – employed by so many industrialized countries – we can ensure that this vital industry remains strong in the 21st century and continues to lead our economic recovery.

We can ensure that Ohioans are equipped with the skills needed to fill good-paying, high-tech jobs. Legislation – like the Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success (SECTORS) Act, which I recently introduced ­– can create partnerships among community colleges, labor, workforce boards, and emerging industries to rejuvenate American manufacturing.

Yes, there are challenges to be met. But, as Americans, we also have a wealth of opportunities to do great things.

Since our founding, Ohio has been a state of vanguard achievements. Innovative Ohioans built the first successful airplane, invented the modern traffic signal, completed the first orbit of Earth by an American, and eight Ohioans have led as President of the United States.

Today’s schoolchildren, senior citizens, public servants, and all Americans have a role to play in creating the country our founders envisioned.

With common-sense legislation and concrete leadership, we can continue to honor our founders and achieve an even better future.

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