As the United States celebrates 238 years of independence from Britain, Scotland is approaching the important decision whether to no longer be a part of the United Kingdom. On the 18th of September, Scots will go to the polls to vote on a referendum on independence.

I cannot pretend to have enough knowledge of politics in Scotland to know whether becoming a neighbor to rather than a member of the United Kingdom is good for Scotland or good for Britain, or any of that. But this is, after all, the point. I don’t know what’s best for Scotland better than the Scots do. I can’t and neither can anyone else. A free people must rule themselves or have the power to choose their own leaders. In the end, these amount to the same thing.

However the referendum goes on September the eighteenth, as an American and a descendent of men who took up arms against the British over two centuries ago, I salute you in Scotland for taking up the ballot rather than the rifle. I hope that it brings you the kind of happy relationship the United States enjoys with Great Britain today. Real allies must stand together on their own ground. Even should you decide to remain a part of the United Kingdom, you will have made that choice deliberately and through a transparent democratic mechanism.