It is hard to fully appreciate freedom until one doesn't have it - something too familiar to millions worldwide oppressed by ruthless dictators and despots. Fortunately, Americans collectively are a blessed lot in this regard, particularly in a bright era of widespread prosperity and peace.

But will sunny days last forever?In too many societies liberty has come and gone, often through internal collapse due to moral decay and not external overrun. Citizens of the United States should be vigilant socially and politically to ensure they do not meet a similar fate.

That requires good people to be pro-active participants in the political arena, promoting solid values upon which this nation was founded. Taking time to cast an informed vote would be a minimal expectation in this regard.

Yet recent primary election figures are indicative that too many guardians of what we profess to cherish are asleep at the watch. That is cause for concern and commitment to be a player and not merely an observer in the workings of democracy.

John Adams, speaking of Independence Day celebrations through the ages, said they should be marked with "pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other."

His perceptive predictions could not have better described today's activities throughout Utah and nationwide. Celebrating the vision and courage of the Founding Fathers who gathered in Philadelphia 222 years ago to declare secession from the most powerful empire on earth cannot be too pronounced.

Yet how many who delight in today's national holiday - the parades, barbecues, picnics and fireworks - bothered to take a few minutes to vote last week, let alone participate more vigorously in the political process? How many have selected a worthy social cause and volunteered time in its furtherance? Is there inconsistency in celebrating cherished liberty while casually relinquishing its care to others?

That is something to ask ourselves this Independence Day, a July 4th that should be marked not only by gratitude for bounteous bestowals, but by a recommitment to participating actively in maintaining them for future generations.

That is the legacy left to us by signers of the Declaration of Independence. They were not spectators but active participants in the promulgation of freedom.