Viewpoint: July 3, 2012

The 4th of July has always been a day of family, food and fun for Americans. But, as we prepare to fire up the barbecue pit, it is also be a time to reflect on the true reasons for our celebration.

It commemorates the bravery of a small group of English colonists who united to fight for freedoms that many in this world are still denied today. To see how truly fortunate we are as a country, you only have to look at some of the current political tensions around the world.

Hundreds of people lost their lives during the uprisings in Egypt that led to the country's first ever democratic election just last month. Our own elections this year are a great reflection of our freedoms. Every  American has a right to speak their mind, to question, to challenge, to agree, to disagree and to have their say in government.

Our country was built on a diversity of opinions and ideas, and the right we all have to express them. As we celebrate America's birthday, remember that freedom should never be taken for granted and remember to thank the countless military personnel who fight every day to protect what makes us American.