With Independence Day on Monday, it should be a time for Americans to evaluate what freedom is, to be thankful for it, to honor those who strive to give it to us.
I believe Americans tend to take Independence Day for granted. Sure, most cities have fireworks displays, most businesses close for the holiday, but what does it really mean to Americans?
Our forefathers fought so their families could pursue happiness for themselves and their children. It’s knowing that even though you were born poor, there are ways to claw and work your way to the top of the capitalist pile. It’s pursuing the American dream and making something of yourself, helping your children make more of themselves.
My aunt came to the United States from South Korea in the mid 70s. She didn’t speak English and only had a picture of my dad which my uncle (her husband) had given her. She came here alone, six months pregnant, and thinking everyone lived like the Ewings did on Dallas. She got over that belief real quick, but she had a dream.
She became a citizen in the next few years, working as a waitress, and raised her son. In the late 80s, she decided she and her husband needed to follow her dream. They moved away from our small town and she started making contacts. A couple of years later, she had a small stand in a flea market. Two years later, she had her first store. Five years after that, she opened another store.
By the time she finished, she had three stores in one town and another in our small town. She’d fulfilled her dream of being an entrepreneur. It wasn’t much by some standards. She never became a millionaire from her hard work. She never opened a chain of stores across the south, but she set out to do what she’d planned to.
That’s what Independence Day is to me. It’s having the freedom to work towards a dream. It’s knowing that our freedoms are there because of them. It’s knowing that you can go into business for yourself without someone telling you no. It’s knowing you can become a writer and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.