The time has come once again when the shelves of every store are fully stocked and form a sea of red, white and blue. Independence rings, and we watch in awe as the sky booms with fireworks for our entertainment and enjoyment. But the expanse of the holiday is meant to hit more than just your wallet or the colors you wear; it should be a reminder of America the beautiful. It should be a testament to the freedom we gained. The way men and women decided that nothing mattered more than the taste of freedom on their lips and in their lives. No matter what our country is facing, no matter what we as individuals endure, this should be the day where we all come together and celebrate the greatest gift we have been given: freedom.

We live in a country founded on the backs of men who continue to deploy and sacrifice everything so that you and I may live the lives we do. Sacrifices are made, not so we can complain about what is going on around us, but so that we may have the freedom to stand up for what we believe is important. So, when we hear the echoes of "I Am Proud to Be an American," our hearts should leap with joy at the truth that brings. Yes, America has its problems, but there is not a country in the world that has it all together. We are fortunate enough to have a bed to lay in and be given the chances to better ourselves. America is an imperfect place full of imperfect people, but isn't that the same for any country? We are blessed to have men and women sacrifice their lives, time,and family to do what is necessary to take care of and ensure the freedom of those around us.

We can celebrate Independence Day this year with full hearts, knowing that we have made it another year as a country where higher education is a possibility for many. We are in a country where we can drink the water around us and not die. We are in a country where many of us have food, shelter and safety. There is no place on earth that I would rather live than America, and it should be the same for you. May we never take one moment in this country for granted. May this Independence Day be one where we all stop and celebrate that today we are free, and that is more than some people can say. As we place our hands over our hearts and pledge our allegiance to this great land, may it not be out of habit, but from our hearts. May we stand and say with tears in our eyes:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all. "