OpinionJuly 1, 2024
Celebrate Independence Day by honoring America's founding principles and freedoms. Reflect on the legacy of the Founding Fathers, the importance of patriotism, and the challenges facing national pride today.

Ever since I was a kid, Independence Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. While grilling out and setting off fireworks is always a great time, the most important thing about July 4th is celebrating the birth of America — the greatest nation in the world.

Nearly 250 years ago on July 4th, the colonies came together and adopted the Declaration of Independence — one of the most influential documents in world history. In it, the Founding Fathers wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

We owe an incredible debt of gratitude to our Founding Fathers for finding the courage to establish a nation built on the principles and freedoms we enjoy today. They put their lives on the line to form a nation with a government run by the people — not the wealthy, kings, or tyrants — and where everyone has the right to practice their religion, make their voice heard without fear of persecution, and so much more.

Sadly, in recent years, we’ve seen an alarming rise in the number of Americans who aren’t proud to call this nation home — and that’s especially true among younger people. One poll last year found that only 18% of 18- to 34-year-olds said they were “extremely proud” to be American. It’s just another consequence of wokeness and the brainwashing we’re seeing in schools, where education curriculums being pushed out by Washington bureaucrats are trying to make children believe that America is evil instead of the beacon of freedom that it is and has been for nearly 250 years. And our Founding Fathers are one of their main targets in their efforts to villainize America and rewrite — and even erase – its history.

We saw students at the University of Virginia, which was founded by Thomas Jefferson, call for removing his name from campus. Radical Leftist student groups bullied George Washington University into changing its mascot from the Colonials, which paid tribute to the brave Americans who defeated the British Army to secure our freedom. All across the country, we’ve seen similar calls for tearing down statues, renaming schools, and other actions aimed at erasing our nation’s history. But the truth is that our Founding Fathers gave radical Leftists and the woke mob the right to "protest" in our nation – something that gets people jailed or even killed in countries like Iran, China, and North Korea.

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Former President Donald Trump once said, “The American Dream is freedom, prosperity, peace — and liberty and justice for all. That’s a big dream. It’s not always easy to achieve, but that’s the ideal. More than any country in history we’ve made gains toward a democracy that is enviable throughout the world. Dreams require perseverance if they are to be realized, and fortunately we’re a hardworking country and people. We are the luckiest people in history, just by the fact that we are Americans.”

Here in southeast and south-central Missouri, we’re incredibly proud to live in the greatest nation in the world. We know that we wouldn’t have our freedoms if it weren’t for our heroic Founding Fathers and the many Americans who sacrificed their lives serving our nation. This Independence Day, I hope you’ll join me in reflecting on how fortunate we are to live in the best country the world has ever seen.

JASON SMITH represents Missouri's 8th Congressional District.

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