Independence is the trademark of Americans. It was there in 1776, and it still lives today. However, the changing times have bombarded our independence and we aren’t as free as Americans once were.

More laws, more regulations are the result of a growing nation with more people and more technological advances. Life is more complicated today. All of this has dented our independence, but it still lives.

We are a nation of diverse people and millions of attitudes. But that independence value has not lessened. Americans want many of the same things. It is just that the paths to take to reach those desires go in many directions. There is no agreement on one single path.

It was the same in the early history of this country. Not all of our founding fathers were united in the kind of a nation to establish. But they did agree on one very important matter — independence. They wanted their freedom from England and any other country that would stand in the way of their independence.

Out of this mix of ideas, concerns, and visions for a country, based first of all on independence, what emerged was the Declaration of Independence. It is a brilliant document that declared that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with “certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The document has endured although it has been attacked.

It could be said of America today that we are not totally living in a country of happiness, but the pursuit continues. We have life, except for the unborn that have been denied that right by our Supreme Court, and while our independence has been limited by too many regulations, we still have liberty. Some of the regulations are needed because of the times. Others are too restrictive, and in some instances, not needed.

This country still is wrestling with principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence, and our Constitution. That struggle will never end. The disagreements among officials in two of our three branches of government are at the gridlock status. Only elections can remove the blockage hindering agreements.

Because of a government that at times is in a dysfunctional mode, and the fading of centrist officeholders, what we have is too much extremeness, on both sides of the aisle, and particularly among many pockets of people.

The July 4 anniversary is an important reminder of our rights and our heritage of independence. That document led to our Constitution. There have been many judicial interpretations of the articles of the Constitution as to our rights, some sound, some misguided. In spite of all the challenges this country has faced, and faces today, pride in our land, our rights, and the spirit of 1776 still are taller than the Statue of Liberty.