On Monday, citizens of the United States will spend the day, and probably the entire weekend, celebrating the Fourth of July. This year marks the 240th anniversary since our Founding Fathers adopted the Declaration of Independence—a document which officially declared our country a sovereign nation free and independent from Great Britain.

Cities and towns across Richland County will hold a variety of celebrations and parades to mark this holiday. Fireworks, cookouts and delicious food always make for a good time spent with family and friends, but I’m hopeful that everyone will also take a moment on this Fourth of July to think about what the day truly symbolizes.

We are a free, sovereign and independent nation. There are countries on this earth that are not free, sovereign, or independent. The Declaration of Independence exists because of the hard work of our ancestors and the continued hard work and sacrifices of many American patriots today.  The Declaration is one of the most important documents in our great nation’s history, as well as world history.  I am always inspired by reading the words, “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.” With these words, along with the rest of the document, our nation was born, and it is crucial that we remember its importance.

In the many years since the founding, our country has experienced its share of hard times. War, depression, natural disasters and political conflicts have all marked times of turbulence in our country’s history. Freedom is not easy, and it is not convenient. However, even with all our problems, I know you’ll join me in being thankful for living in the United States, a place I believe is the best nation in the world.

For many reasons, Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays. It brings together people across America for a common reason - to celebrate the freedom we all enjoy.  I wish you all a wonderful holiday with your friends and family, and of course, Happy Fourth of July!

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