The road's been long and difficult, and probably won't get any easier in future; everyone's taken wrong turns, and will do so again. But I'm so glad to be walking the road with you, because my companions on the journey are, by and large, decent and honorable folk, and the destination we long to reach - freedom and justice for everyone - is a shared yearning. May you have many more birthdays, and may we all, as your component parts, grow in wisdom and mercy.
So: Tomorrow we go back to cleaning up the Gulf, fighting Wall Street greed and influence, pursuing new scientific knowledge, pressing our elected representatives to be better, educating our children and ourselves, rescuing those in danger, planting trees, repairing homes, writing stories, watching each other's backs, and caring for each other in a difficult, day-to-day way. It's frustrating, tough, work that demands we listen to each other, put aside differences, and hold to ideals while being practical team members.* Apart from spinning straw into gold, I can't think of a more difficult job. Apart from loving each other, I can't think of a more important job.
For today, though, let the barbecues heat up, let the bands play Sousa, let the picnic baskets proliferate, let the kids eat ice cream and let the fireworks explode across our skies!
(Here's a group of people trying to do just that. Check it out.)