With the annual celebration of America’s Independence approaching on July 4, we’re sure most of you are looking forward to sitting out by the pool, barbequing with friends and family and enjoying your beverage of choice.

But as fireworks rocket into the air and kids play with sparklers, it’s also important to sit back and think about the brave men and women of the American Armed Forces. We must remember not only those currently serving in the military, but all of the veterans in the history of our great country.

We wouldn’t be doing the things we take for granted on this American holiday if it weren’t for the sacrifices made during the American Revolution, the World Wars or any of the other conflicts our nation has been embroiled in throughout its illustrious history.

It is those sacrifices that allow America to be the great place that it is to live today.

And we should not take that for granted — not during this week or any other week in our calendar year.

Just about everyone in the Houma-Thibodaux area knows someone who has spent time in the military. For most of us, the bond is even more personal and we are kin to someone who has spent time in the service.

They’re friends, neighbors and employees. They’re husbands, wives, mothers and fathers. We, at Rushing Media, are not unlike you. We also have several veterans and retired veterans in our close and also extended families.

These people were brave enough to leave the comforts of their homes and fight to defend our right to speak freely, practice any religion and heck, even to barbecue and take the work day off this Thursday on this Independence Day weekend.

Their willingness to defend our freedoms is why The Times of Houma-Thibodaux and other media outlets around the country exist, and they’re why we, as a nation, have a free press that is able to report society’s truths – even when it means publishing information that makes individuals uncomfortable.

It is why you, our loyal reader, are allowed to consume the information we present to you and form your own opinions freely without forced influence from government.

It’s why you’re allowed to take those opinions and spread them, verbally to friends and family or to a broader audience on Facebook, Twitter or other forms of social media. It’s why if you’re critical of a decision made by an elected official, you’re able to say it without fear of an attack against you or a loved one in retribution.

Other people around the world do not have those same luxuries and are held down by evil political machines that limit the information people are able to consume and which rule with an iron fist against those who question the government’s control and power.

Some of these aforementioned brave men and women enlisted on their own. Others didn’t have a choice and were drafted away from their lives and into the various wars of the past.

All of the contributions are worthwhile and have helped our land get to where it is today – the greatest free nation in the world, a nation that is overcoming its challenges, but is still growing brighter at every turn.

America has been coined the land of opportunity thanks to our fallen heroes.

So before you light up the grill and put a spark to that first firework, why don’t you take the time to call a family member or friend who served in the military and thank them for allowing this day to be possible?

Because it is them, and not the fireworks, that is what the 4th of July is all about.

It’s their blood, sweat and tears that allow this day to be possible.

Whether Democrat, Republican, Independent, No Party or some other party, we can all agree bravery is why Americans around the world enjoy the liberties which we do today.

Here’s to another great year, America.

Even with all of the challenges facing us, may this 243rd year be our best one yet.

Thank you to all who have served and who will serve in the future.

You folks embody the spirit of Independence Day and are why the holiday is one of the happiest times of the year.

May God bless you all and also America in the weeks and months that lie ahead! •

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