This nation's president is on an official state visit to one of the most totalitarian countries in the world, where citizens are denied so many freedoms, rights and opportunities that citizens of the United States take for granted.
Whether it is proper for Clinton to make the trip to China and visit Tiananmen Square, the cloudy issues surrounding the Clinton presidential election campaign receiving large financial gifts from the Chinese political and military leaders, Clinton's approval of the sale of sensitive satellite technology to the Chinese and many other issues associated with China's government, its domestic policy, human rights and its military might and strategy -- this all will be debated in the months to come.
Aside from these matters -- and they all are terribly important issues -- the China trip might help Americans focus on just how fortunate they are to live in an independent society and how much we owe those who, over the past 222 years, have sacrificed to keep America free and independent.
It is hoped Americans will realize there is nothing that guarantees citizens of this country always will have the freedoms they enjoy today. In fact, in many ways, there are fewer freedoms today, more government controls and more regulations than at any time in this nation's history.
Some will immediately suggest this writer is opposed to government actions that have barred discrimination and other such actions. This is not the case. Rather, it is a fact there are more controls and more restrictions on what individuals and businesses are free to do in this country today than at any previous time.
The founders of this new nation said they thought Independence Day was an extremely important day. John Adams said, ``I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward to evermore.''
Most of what Adams had hoped for continues today, although with less enthusiasm, in many respects.
The only areas in which it's likely there would be significant dispute or differences would be Adams' call for ``solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty'' and that guns be used in celebrating this nation's birthday.
In fact, Adams and the others who drafted the Declaration of Independence probably would be shocked by the manner in which this country's government has tried to take God out of so many areas of daily activity.
Independence Day should prompt Americans to realize just how important independence truly is. This means political independence, military independence and economic independence.
None of these areas of independence is likely to survive unless Uncle Sam remains strong -- strong morally, strong militarily and with an informed and involved citizenry taking an active role in government at all levels.
As noted above, there is nothing that says this country will survive another 222 years as the world's most free and independent nation. Good, honest, properly motivated, morally sound men and women need to be elected to public offices at the local, state and national levels.
Likewise, care must be given to make sure this nation's education system is sound and not so enamored with new educational philosophies that the basic areas are abandoned. Students at all levels should be expected to measure up to realistic standards before they are advanced to higher levels of schooling.
Good, honest men and women should be selected to serve in judicial positions. The courts are not the place to make new laws.
At this time, no one knows what the eventual fallout will be from Clinton's visit to China. It's not likely anything he may say at highly publicized meetings in China will have any lasting impact on the current Chinese leaders. What Clinton has done by accepting financial gifts from Chinese officials and selling sensitive satellite hardware and information is water over the dam.
Only time will tell how much damage may have been done by these actions and decisions.
The one thing the visit to China may do is cause Americans to realize what a great country they live in and the importance of keeping it strong and independent. Complacency, ``leaving it to the other guy,'' an acceptance of less-than-proper behavior, performance and personal standards is the surest way to weaken this nation, a rotting from within, and allow the erosion of freedoms.
What will this nation be like, how independent will it be and how many freedoms will its citizens enjoy on the Fourth of July 25, 50 or 100 years from now?