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‘A time of celebration and vigilance’

"A time of celebration and vigilance."

That’s how White House press secretary Ari Fleischer described this week for Americans.

And he’s right.

We celebrate our country’s 226th birthday on July 4, a national holiday. Patriotism and pride will swell our ranks, and celebrations are planned from coast to coast. From fireworks to concerts to barbecues, Americans will turn out to join in the Independence Day celebrations.

But it is also a time of vigilance – a time of increased awareness and attentiveness for all Americans. That heightened alert, if you will, is a direct result of the actions of Sept. 11. On that day, when terrorist attacks killed more than 3,000 on our shores, our lives changed forever.

The threat of terrorism became real, and we must live with that reality each day of our lives.

As Troy Police Chief Anthony Everage said, "Our life has changed and our nation has changed."

We must all be more aware of our surroundings; we must all be more conscious of those around us; we must all be more attentive to security issues.

And, it’s likely we’ll all be inconvenienced a bit more in the name of safety. We’ve seen it at the airports; we’ll find it coming home at city-wide events, if police begin checking bags and vehicles.

But awareness and inconvenience are a small price to pay for the freedom that we celebrate on Independence Day. That freedom – our democracy and our way of life – have thrived for more than 225 years now. It’s worthy of celebrating, and celebrating as a nation.

Yes, we will be more alert.

And we will be more attentive.

But we will also be more appreciative of the freedoms that we have in America and of the price many have paid to protect that freedom.

We have much to celebrate this Independence Day … and we will do "heartily" as our president urged.  

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