Recent Op-Eds

Few, if any, other American holidays are celebrated or recognized quite like the Fourth of July. These community-by-community celebrations are as similar as they are unique – the very qualities that embody what it means to be a citizen of these United States. Our democracy – and the independence from which it was born – was established, refined, and defended by generations past and present, and it continues to set us apart from any other nation in the world.

Democracy isn’t perfect, but it’s that imperfection that has always allowed us to grow and become stronger. The burden is on all of us – young and old, Republicans and Democrats, East Coast to West Coast – to ensure that this enduring legacy lives on, and the Fourth of July is an important time to both reflect on where we’ve been as a country and celebrate the opportunities that lie ahead.

As I reflect on the past, I can’t help but think of World War II veterans like my dad and the rest of America’s Greatest Generation who answered the call to serve. The world had never met, nor will they meet again, a group of individuals so dedicated to the pursuit of freedom and democracy around the world.

I was humbled to have recently spent some time with several of these men who represent a group of heroes that’s sadly getting smaller by the day. They trekked from South Dakota to Washington, D.C., to see firsthand the war memorials that were created for, and made possible by, the sacrifices they made in service to our nation. It’s something I’ll never forget, and it’s something that I wish all Americans could have experienced with me.

As I look to the future, I’m nothing but optimistic. While it’s easy to get bogged down by the day-to-day commotion that we’ve all grown accustomed to in today’s 24-hour news cycle, there’s plenty around us for which we can celebrate. For me, I have my family and my friends, including the hundreds of thousands of South Dakotans who constantly inspire me to do the best job that I can as their senator.

On the Fourth of July, parades often serve as the cornerstone of a community’s celebration. This year, as the uniform-clad men and women who carry the stars and stripes and lead the way for the floats and marching bands that will follow, I urge you to take a closer look. In their solemn faces – eyes locked forward – you can get a tiny glimpse of the past, present, and future of America, all in one instant. When you see it, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

I hope you have a safe and blessed day with your family, friends, and community. Happy Fourth of July!