While we just loaded up our boats, fired up the grill, and blew some stuff up, let's keep in mind what it's all about.

While we just loaded up our boats, fired up the grill, and blew some stuff up, let’s keep in mind what it’s all about.

The 4th of July is many people’s favorite holiday, besides Christmas. It certainly is one of mine. But while we grill out and blare music each year, let’s remember what those fireworks symbolize—musket balls and cannon shot being hurled at enemies seeking to deny us our freedom.

Now I’m aware that sounds extreme, but that is what was happening, and that is what we had to do in order to become the nation we are today. I’ve seen enough of the world to know that most countries don’t enjoy our quality of life. Our poor live better than the middle class in many countries around the world. Now, that’s not to take away from their struggle by any means, but it does say something about what we have built here.

We all learned about Fort McHenry in high school, at least I hope we did. With hopeless defense, it was a battle we could have easily lost. Volunteers and militia made up the reinforcements that aided the Fort. The British had just sacked Washington, and the president and his family had fled. Four thousand British soldiers accompanied the British fleet for a joint attack. A ragtag team of men, determined to remain free, free from British rule and oppression, held the Fort until dawn and the British withdrew. It’s moments like this in our history that make the 4th of July what it is—a symbol of our independence as a people.

One of my favorite moments in U.S. history is the Battle of the Alamo. It has many similarities to the Fort McHenry battle. A ragtag group, fighting against all odds, to be free from the rule of a government that didn’t recognize its citizens. While the Battle of the Alamo ended in defeat, it bought Sam Houston time to mobilize an Army strong enough to defeat General Santa Anna.

As a kid, I remember my grandfather reading to me the life story of Davy Crockett. After everything he accomplished, he could have sat back and enjoyed the final years of his life after his political career ended, but he saw a chance to do the right thing and he went. There is a famous painting of him swinging his rifle like a club, surrounded by enemy soldiers. I remember the feeling I got as a young boy looking at that image. Fighting until there is nothing left, and then fighting some more because you have to.

Even today we have heros like that among us—the men who fought the Battle of Ramadi, the turning point for the War in Iraq. Let’s remember we get to go to the lake, grill out, and have a cold one, because of those people. Because of heroes that live among us, we are still independent.