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Independence Day more than holiday

Once the smoke clears from Dad’s barbecued burgers and the family sits down to eat today, we hope you will remember to take time to reflect on the true meaning of Independence Day.

Sure, many Americans have a day off — some are beginning a long weekend of summer fun — but July 4 is much more than just a holiday or an excuse to throw a backyard party.

So, before you dig into Mom’s potato salad or grab a hot dog off the platter, imagine for a moment what your life and the lives of your loved ones would be like without the freedoms that we enjoy and too often take for granted.

What if the Declaration of Independence had not been written and, therefore, not adopted on July 4, 1776? What would our world be like if representatives of the 13 colonies had not risked their lives to form a free nation, to break away from the rule of England?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Those words have inspired generations of Americans and others throughout the world and helped make life better for millions of persecuted people.

What if this great nation had never existed to stand tall through storm after storm in championing the cause of liberty and freedom?

What if generations of patriots had not been as dedicated to the cause of freedom as they were? What if they had not been willing to put their lives on the line to fight in the face of overwhelming odds?

What nation would rule our house today and dictate how we could live, speak and think? What alien banner would be flying over our nation?

Thanks to the sacrifices of many brave heroes, Old Glory continues to wave above us today, and as you join in singing the national anthem and other songs that are such a big part of Independence Day celebrations every year, we ask that you pay close attention as the music soars to hear the meaning and feel the spirit that went into the writing of the words.

And later, when you join your neighbors for the fireworks show at Apogee Stadium, we’d like you to give some thought to what the “rocket’s red glare” actually means and give thanks for those who have kept our flag flying and our nation free.

The path to freedom was not easy, and the price of freedom was not cheap. Patriots fought and died to win our independence, and brave men and women continue to pay the price of preserving that freedom today.

Yes, the Fourth of July is a day when we plan plenty of family fun. It is a time to gather for reunions, to enjoy sports and to dine on all our traditional summer dishes. It is a day for red, white and blue banners and streamers and neighborhood parades.

But Independence Day is so much more than slogans and color schemes or patriotic-themed events.

What a glorious nation this is, and yet, few of us appreciate how lucky we are.

This is a good day to think about such things, to remember who we are and where we came from and how this great nation was created and built.

Fly your flag today and reaffirm your commitment to liberty and freedom.

Happy Independence Day.