Air Force leaders issue Independence Day message Published July 2, 2012 WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy send the following Independence Day message to the men and women of the U.S. Air Force: This Fourth of July marks the 236th year since the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence--the document that separated the American colonies from British rule and led to the creation of a new federal republic. Thanks to the vision of our Founding Fathers and the commitment of the courageous men and women who fought to win American independence, we inherit a legacy of freedom based on the idea that all people possess certain unalienable rights--to life, to liberty, and to the pursuit of happiness. Our Nation's early patriots deserve our enduring gratitude for their sacrifices on behalf of their fellow citizens. But we also owe a debt to the millions of Americans across the generations who since have protected our democracy for more than two centuries. This includes most especially those Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen who made the ultimate sacrifice, have been captured, or otherwise remain missing in fighting for and helping to preserve our liberty. The families of our service members--past and present, and particularly of our wounded warriors--also have earned our thanks for their sacrifices. This Fourth of July, let us recommit ourselves to doing all that we can to ensure that our children, our grandchildren, and the generations that follow will enjoy the freedoms that are our birthright as Americans. We salute you and your service, our flag, and the United States of America; and we wish to you a safe and happy Independence Day.