For many of us, the Fourth of July marks the high point of summer events and activities. From barbeques to fireworks to parades, families come together to celebrate the birth of our nation on this important holiday. With summer finally in full swing, schools are out, vacations are planned and children are out enjoying the warm weather. Along with these great traditions, there is also much more to the Fourth of July than just food and fireworks. Independence Day is a living example of the rich history dating back over two centuries to the founding of our country. It was on July 4, 1776, that the Declaration of Independence was officially adopted by the Continental Congress. Many of us are familiar with its famous preamble: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. \u2014 That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." With this document, the United States separated from Great Britain so that the people could choose their government instead of simply living under the rule of a king. As your state senator, I am honored that you have given me the opportunity to continue this tradition and to represent your voice in Hartford. For Connecticut, this tradition has existed for hundreds of years, dating back to the original signing of the Declaration. As one of the 13 original colonies, our state has several local connections to this historical event. Of the 56 signatories who risked their lives to sign their names on the Declaration, four were from Connecticut. They included Samuel Huntington, Roger Sherman, William Williams and Oliver Wolcott. If you have traveled around Connecticut, you may have come across some of these names as towns or streets. Locally, the Huntington section of Shelton was named to honor one of these signatories. Keeping this historical significance in mind, Independence Day is an excellent opportunity to spend time with our families and take part in patriotic activities, such as watching fireworks. This week, both Shelton and Stratford held their fireworks displays on Tuesday, July 3. If you could not attend these events, there will also be a show nearby in Beacon Falls on Saturday, July 7. While we have all studied this historical document in school, it is always refreshing to reread this powerful message that has made our country what it is today. Independence Day is a living reminder of this important event and why we celebrate this holiday every year. I encourage you to share this message with your friends and family, but most of all I hope that your Independence Day is enjoyable and safe. Let freedom ring! Sen. Kevin Kelly represents the 21st District, which includes all of Shelton, most of Stratford, and parts of Monroe and Seymour.