This coming week, we will be celebrating another birthday for our nation. July 4 is the day we celebrate the start of something new.

This nation won the ability to make its own choices, its own mistakes and its own successes. No longer did the rules handed down from England hinder the right of the people to govern themselves.

That freedom was not handed over lightly nor easily. It was a bloody attainment. People were injured, maimed, permanently crippled and killed. Families were split and devastated. But the ultimate goal was ever before the people: freedom.

Men and women, young and old, willingly put their lives on the line to attain what they knew was their inalienable right. Many lost their lives, never tasting the sweet prize they sought. But because of their sacrifice, we enjoy the fruit of their actions.

In my opinion, we live in the greatest nation on earth. Yes, there are quirks and frustrations with the political arena. There are the ever-present cries of unfairness, selfishness and greed.

But there are also the freedoms to pursue happiness, to walk freely down the streets, to enjoy nature as God's precious gift and to not be afraid of speaking your mind.

It has been said that throughout history no democracy has lasted more than 250 years. How does a democracy fall? By people becoming complacent. By people demanding that the government owes them something. By idleness. By people not being willing to do the hard work to maintain the form of government that was won through bloodshed and heartbreak. By the government demanding more and more of its people's money through taxes and other means. By the powerful oppressing the weak.

Our nation will be celebrating its 241st birthday. If statistics hold true, this would mean our democracy has about nine years left before it evolves into something else.

Are we heading down the path of destruction? To look around, it might appear that way. But, if each of us would do our part to prevent that from happening, our nation will continue to give honor to the men and women throughout our nation's history who gave their all for the freedom we enjoy today.

Doing our part does not mean more bloodshed. It means making a commitment — a commitment to live by the laws of our land, a commitment to stand for justice and truth and a willingness to call out those who practice corruption and seek their own glory.

In other words, it is making a commitment to remember what it was what our ancestors fought against 241 years ago, and prevent the same oppressive factors from raising their ugly heads.

What does the Lord require of you? To do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).

The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.