Happy Birthday, America!

The United States celebrates its 236th year of independence on July 4, 2012. "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," wrote Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, and CMSAF James Roy in their Independence Day . They added, "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." Here, fireworks light up the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Va., on Oct. 13, 2006, the eve of its dedication. (