What does Independence Day mean to you?

For many people, it’s cookouts, spending time with family and fireworks.

But, while the holiday is all those things, it’s so much more.

July Fourth is the day we celebrate our nation’s birth. July 4, 1776. Every child in school knows that date and what it means.

Sometimes, it seems like as adults we forget just how significant today is and how much it means to live in the United States of America.

Sure, our country has its issues, but we have a lot that’s good going for us, too, and it’s because our Founding Fathers wanted something better than to be subjects to the crown in England.

Think about what we have that many other people can only dream of.

At the top of that list is the right to vote, the right to choose the people who will lead our country.

We can go to our polling place and cast our ballots in safety.

In too many other countries, people run the risk of being killed trying to vote or elections are rigged so it doesn’t matter how people vote.

We also have the right here to better ourselves.

We can get as much education as we want, which opens up so many possibilities for employment.

In too many other countries, too many people are stuck where they are, with no chance to climb up.

We are guaranteed certain rights — spelled out in the Declaration of Independence — including, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

In many other countries, too many people put themselves at risk if they try to claim those same rights.

No, our country is not perfect, but we have the ability to work every day to improve it.

Today, on our Independence Day, we encourage everyone to exercise their rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Just remember how dear those rights are.

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