On this day in 1776, fifty-six men representing thirteen colonies in the new world signed the Declaration of Independence, which established the United States of America. At the time, the colonies were under control of Great Britain’s King George III, but war was raging and Britain’s grip on the colonies was finally starting to crumble. The declaration was written in response to new tax laws levied on the colonies by the British government. In 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed, which ended the war and recognized the sovereignty of the United States.

Since that time, the core of what the United States has stood for is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These tenets comprise the basic beliefs of the Founding Fathers that all men have certain rights that cannot be compromised. Though I spend much of my time these days watching in disappointment as many of those tenets are undermined by the efforts of overzealous government, I praise God that I was born into a country that has enabled so many to pursue their dreams to the fullest. I blog about chess because it is a love of mine, but there are places in the world where playing chess is a decadent activity punishable by death.

On this day, Americans everywhere take time not just to remember the sacrifices of service members, but to be thankful for the men and women who had the vision of a nation dedicated to the justified treatment of all people under God. Happy Birthday to the United States of America. Every year I hope and pray that it is not the last.