On U.S. Independence Day, President Barack Obama is calling on Americans to remember the spirit of the nation's founders, and to embrace his domestic initiatives. Republican Senator John McCain, meanwhile, wants stronger U.S. language against Iran's violent crackdown on protesters.
President Obama, in his weekly address, asks Americans to remember the sacrifices and achievements of the men who voted for independence 233 years ago.
"We are called to remember how unlikely it was that our American experiment would succeed at all; that a small band of patriots would declare independence from a powerful empire; and that they would form, in the new world, what the old world had never known - a government of, by and for the people," he said.
In July, 1776, the representatives of 13 British colonies in America, gathered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, voted to declare independence from Britain and formed a new nation. At the same time, colonists in hastily-organized and poorly-financed militias battled the British Army for several years, until London officially recognized U.S. independence.
Mr. Obama called on Americans to recall those patriots' spirit and support his plans to reform the U.S. education, health care and energy policies.
"We are not a people who fear the future. We are a people who make it. And on this July 4th, we need to summon that spirit once more. We need to summon the same spirit that inhabited Independence Hall 233 years ago today."
The president is celebrating Independence Day with a traditional barbecue and fireworks on the White House lawn, with 1,200 military families invited to attend. He is also celebrating his daughter Malia's 11th birthday. Mr. Obama leaves late Sunday for a week-long trip to Russia, Italy and Ghana.
In the weekly Republican Party message, Senator John McCain of Arizona is also paying tribute to the nation's founding fathers, who he says "stood up to a powerful oppressor and claimed their natural right to liberty."
McCain is also invoking the patriots' spirit as he calls on the Obama administration to speak out more forcefully in support of the anti-government protesters in Iran. "They did not ask us to arm them or come to their assistance with anything other than public declarations of solidarity and public denunciations of the tyrants who oppress them. We have a moral obligation to do so," he said.
Senator McCain is rejecting earlier White House claims that a more vocal response by Washington would have supported the Iranian government's claims of U.S. interference.
"Do they really believe Iranians do not know why they are protesting, and who is oppressing them? Do they think Iranians whose votes were discarded, whose voices have been ignored, whose lives have been threatened by the regime they wish to be rid of, will think America has put them in that position?" he said.
U.S. Independence Day is traditionally celebrated with picnics, parades, concerts, fireworks displays, and readings of the Declaration of Independence.