President Obama celebrates America's independence

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Obama used his weekly address Thursday to sound a happy birthday for the United States of America.

"On July 4, 1776, a small band of patriots declared that we were a people created equal - free to think and worship and live as we please," Obama said. "It was a declaration heard around the world - that we were no longer colonists, we were Americans, and our destiny would not be determined for us; it would be determined by us."

Giving special thanks to the members of the military and service members currently serving in harm's way, Obama called on all Americans to continue striving for the ideals and liberty of Independence Day.

"237 years later, the United States - this improbable nation - is the greatest in the world," Obama said. "A land of liberty and opportunity. A global defender of peace and freedom. A beacon of hope to people everywhere who cherish those ideals."