Senator John ThuneAcross South Dakota and across the nation, friends and families will gather this July 4th to celebrate our nation's independence. These gatherings should be light-hearted and fun, but the 4th of July gives us a special opportunity to reflect on the costs of our freedom, the history of our nation, and the promise that lies ahead.
On Independence Day, we recognize the courage of those who refused to submit to the rule of those who offered them no voice of representation in government. All too often, we become complacent in appreciating our freedom and all of the actions that Americans in generations past took to earn and defend it. Today, we see images through our televisions and the Internet of people around the world suffering because of their desire for freedom. The struggles for freedom from persecution and dictatorship around the world serve as a jarring reminder of how fortunate we truly are.
There will be many families in South Dakota who will be spending the 4th of July without the company of loved ones who are currently serving in the Armed Forces overseas. Freedom has a special meaning for those who fight to defend it and for those who wait for them at home, so I urge all South Dakotans to keep those who serve in their thoughts and prayers this Independence Day.
Similarly, South Dakotans who attend parades and picnics will almost certainly see veterans who have returned to our free country after fighting in lands that were not. For these veterans, the 4th of July has special meaning, and for the rest of us, this national holiday gives us an opportunity to express our gratitude for their service. Veterans of every conflict contribute to our history, and we are all fortunate to learn from their experiences.
Even with all of the serious things to think about on Independence Day, it is a happy occasion. There will be parades, rodeos, baseball games, and fireworks across South Dakota, and I know that everyone in our state will approach the fun with the right frame of mind. I look forward to visiting several communities in South Dakota throughout the holiday weekend to share in the celebrations and remembrances. I want to wish all South Dakotans a happy Independence Day as we ask for God's continued blessings on our state and our nation.