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Fourth, important day in history
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The Fourth of July or "Independence Day" is the national day of the United States set aside to commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. This piece of paper declared our independence from Great Britain, and was signed by 56 great men who risked treason to create our great nation.

From that day on, the Fourth of July is one of, if not the most important day in American history.

A year later in 1777, Philadelphia hosted an official dinner for the Continental Congress to include music, prayers, parades, troop reviews, speeches, fireworks and 13-gun salutes.

Ships in the harbor were also decorated with red, white and blue sashes. From that point on, yearly celebrations continued, to include everything from fireworks, parades, barbecues, concerts, picnics, carnivals and baseball games.

Since its founding, our country has had some wonderful mountain top experiences, but it has also faced some dark days. We came all too close to having our country split apart during the civil war. During this difficult time our nation was led by one of our greatest leaders, Abraham Lincoln.

As President Lincoln reflected on the state of the nation he so loved, he said: "My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth."

Because of his leadership and all the hard working Americans that came after him, President Lincoln's dream became a reality.

I am then reminded of how not only our Nation but also our allies all around the world came together to stand united against Nazi Germany during World War II.

During this conflict the nation that once had been our greatest enemy became our closest friend, Great Britain.

In May 1940, Germany had begun a decisive campaign against France and Winston Churchill had just become Prime Minister of Great Britain. Churchill knew he faced overwhelming odds, but his courage was high as he recorded his thoughts.

He wrote: "I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial."

As we look across our country today we, too, find ourselves facing overwhelming odds and challenges that are too numerous to list. However, we should be reminded from time to time that we are not the first generation to face such odds. I believe that we, too, are walking with destiny and we have been placed here at this time for a purpose. I don't have to look past our own community to find reasons to be encouraged.

We see each day how local government is getting back to the basics by getting back to what government should be doing. I have the pleasure each day to work with many churches, non-profits and other community groups that are stepping up to the plate to fill the void that has been left in many people's lives with the recession. I have had the pleasure to go into our schools to talk with and work with the next generation of leaders, and I am encouraged by them and all the possibilities I believe they will bring with them.

With July 4 upon us let's take a break from our differences and take time to celebrate living in what is still the greatest nation on earth. And what I believe is still "the last best hope of earth."

Here in Dawson County, we like to show our remembrance of this historic event through "Sparks in the Park."

This is a wonderful opportunity to not only spend a special day with family and friends, but also it is a time for our community to come together. I hope everyone will come out to Rock Creek Park on July 2 for an evening full of events concluding with a spectacular fireworks display that night.

Gates will open at 5 p.m., with music beginning at 6 p.m.

It is my hope and prayer that each of you has a blessed summer and a spectacular July 4.

Kevin Tanner is the county manager of Dawson County. He can be reached at (706) 344-3501 or at