Remember what it means to be an American this Fourth of July

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This week, our nation celebrates its 236th birthday. Most of us will spend the day celebrating with family and friends, barbequing and watching fireworks. But between the fireworks and cheeseburgers, it is important that we take a moment to think about what it means to be an American and pause to remember those who have fought for this country.

It is easy to take for granted the freedom that we have in this country, or the fact that we get to choose who leads our government. We are blessed to live in a country where we can speak freely and worship God without fear of persecution. 

America is the greatest country in the world not because we are a superpower or because we have the largest economy, but because our country is founded on the principle that government works best when it is run by the people. Our strength is derived from our freedom. Where other countries try to stamp out those who speak out against government leaders, our country embraces political debate. It makes us stronger.

Our founding fathers created a country that has survived a civil war, two world wars, and the Great Depression. Our country not only created modern democracy, we spread it to the world.

But as the saying goes, “freedom isn’t free.” Democracy and freedom have come at an expensive price, and thousands of Americans have given their lives to secure that freedom for us.

This year has been a difficult year for our veterans. Last month, seventeen veterans’ offices across this state were closed due to a lack of funding. But despite this setback, there has also been some good news for our veterans. 

Rep. Marcel Black of Tuscumbia and Sen. Marc Keahey of Grove Hill, passed a bill that will allow our veterans who have been honorably discharged to have the word “Veteran” stamped on their driver’s license. This will not only serve as a means to recognize our veterans, it will also make it easier for veterans to prove their status when they need to access the services they are entitled to.

To those who have served before, and to all those who are serving now, I thank you for your service and your sacrifice to our country.

I have been doubly blessed to have had the opportunity to serve our country and our state both in the U.S. Army Reserve and the Alabama National Guard, and as a legislator in the Alabama House of Representatives. Serving our country and our state has been an honor and a privilege.

So as you take time this week to grill those hot dogs and enjoy the fireworks, please take a few minutes to consider what it means to be an American. And take a few moments to remember those who have fought and died for the freedom that we enjoy.

Representative Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden.  He has served in the Alabama House of Representatives since 2000. Representative Ford was elected House Minority Leader by the House Democratic Caucus in 2010. He was re-elected Minority Leader in 2012.

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