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The song of the summer continues in July. The cicadas are still buzzing, and the screen doors continue to creek. This month, the song is accompanied by undertones I love: tones of freedom and love for our country. There’s no better place to celebrate the Fourth of July than the Pelican State. The people here love our country, and it shows. I always look forward to the sight of fireworks reflecting off the ponds and lakes and the smoky smell of barbecue that wafts over us as we walk from our houses to our cars, ready to celebrate with our loved ones. In most backyards, we gather together to grill juicy steaks and hamburgers. We sit in lawn chairs enjoying delicious grub and good company. It’s our way of celebrating the country we live in and the freedoms we enjoy. By staying true to those freedoms, we celebrate our independence every single day. The sweltering heat should stifle our fun, but on the contrary, it makes certain activities lovely. Nothing beats resting poolside in July with cool beverages in our hands, basking in the sun’s rays. We live in a divisive time. I don’t have to remind you what’s going on in the news every day. Instead of focusing on what divides us, I’d rather write about what unites each and every American in this country that brave men and women fought and died for. They had a vision of what a free and independent nation could do. They saw a great union of people who could exercise freedom of speech, religion, press, and the right to bear arms. Most importantly, they were willing to fight for it. Ben Franklin said it best: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” THE FEEL OF FREEDOM FOR WHOM THE FIREWORKS BURST
The liberty they fought for is alive and well today. I can’t imagine how Benjamin Franklin would feel if he knew that, 241 years later, our rights were still defended by brave men and women in uniform. He would be proud to know there are still courageous people at home who defend the Constitution, a guide that George Washington said he would “never abandon.” He never did, and I hope we never will either. The sights, sounds, and tastes of the holiday are great, but they do not compare to the way freedom feels. I hope we never take it for granted, and I hope we hold the sacrifices of those before us dear in our hearts. I salute all those who fight for our freedoms at home and abroad, and to each American who loves our country, remember, the fireworks are for you.
Happy Independence Day!
– J. Cra ig Jon e s a nd Cra ig Ra y Hill
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