Yesterday I spent my second 4th of July in the desert of Kuwait. Also, only the second time that I have not watched fireworks or attended a parade or listened to a band play a Sousa march.
Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays. Sure, I love Christmas and Thanksgiving, but there is something about the 4th of July that sets it apart from all other holidays. The joy of watching a concert of patriotic music and fireworks - all while sitting next to a loved one or surrounded by friends and family - is one of life's great joys. The spectacle of fireworks has always amazed me by its ability to bring out the child in everyone, no matter how old they are on the outside.
In my family, our Independence Day traditions are fairly simple. We go to the Concert in the Park in Janesville. We watch fireworks shot off by my Dad and my Uncle. We grill burgers and brats and just enjoy a day filled with the company of family. I missed that this year.
Even so, it isn't just the tradition of a family cookout that I miss. It's the reflection of why we get to enjoy everything there is to enjoy about this country and this holiday. We get to celebrate our nation's independence, our nation's birth, because of the courage and sacrifice of some extraordinary men.
233 years ago, 55 men risked death and the deaths of their loved ones by signing the Declaration of Independence. On that day, those men changed the world forever. On that day they created a nation that would be founded on the principles of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
The men who signed the Declaration of Independence and those who fought in the Revolution purchased for us a nation of laws and rights. A nation that would stand as beacon of freedom to the entire world. It's their sacrifice that we celebrate every 4th of July.
I am in awe of those men. Not because of who they were, but because of what they did, what they risked for Liberty.
Every Independence Day I am thankful for, and reminded of, the price paid for our great nation. As I close my eyes and think of the concerts, the fireworks, the food, I think again how lucky we are to live in a nation so prosperous and free.