This Independence Day, as you gather with their families for picnics, fireworks, and fun, toast to the birth of our country with your favorite non-alcoholic beverage. Our is an iconic American industry, founded by entrepreneurs and built upon their innovative spirit. Even today, a century-plus after the first sodas were invented in the 1800s, our companies continue to create new and exciting products to meet the diverse tastes and needs of the consumer.

And America's beverage industry is doing its part to improve the health and wellness of today's kids. In 2006, the industry developed national School Beverage Guidelines. Under these guidelines, full-calorie soft drinks are being removed from schools. The guidelines provide for only bottled water, low-fat and non-fat milk and 100 percent juice in elementary and middle schools, with the addition of diet sodas, low-calorie teas and reduced-portion sports drinks in high schools. Nearly 80 percent of America's schools under contract with beverage companies are in compliance with the guidelines, and we are proud of the positive impact they are having on children's lives.

This Fourth of July weekend, however, brings focus to the folly of taxing foods and beverages Americans enjoy every day, especially during holiday gatherings. Some policy-makers are considering a federal tax on soft drinks, which could be as high as 20 percent. Such a regressive and discriminatory tax would further squeeze hard-working families struggling through a recession and impact Independence Day celebrations for years to come.

The beverage industry is supportive of efforts to reform our nation's health care system, but a tax on soft drinks would not make a dent in that public policy effort and would do real damage to middle-class families.

The spirit of America is what makes this country great, and the beverage industry is proud to serve her. Happy 4th of July!