Celebrate American greatness this year

By Gray Hughes


I absolutely love Independence Day.

It’s by far my favorite summer holiday. When I think Independence Day, naturally, I think of America. Obviously.

My favorite way to spend Independence Day? Being out on the water somehow — be it a river, bay, ocean or pool — followed by watching baseball, downing too many hot dogs and then watching the fireworks.

As a teenager and young adult since I lived in a tourist area, I worked a lot of Independence Days, which never made me too happy. But the memories of Independence Days past kept me going.

My favorite Independence Day was when I was a kid. I don’t remember how old I was, but if I were to guess I think I was about 8 or 9. I was with my dad and step-mom when they were living outside of Philadelphia. We did a lot of fun things together, but my favorite part was watching the fireworks with them sitting on a blanket.

But Independence Day is more than baseball, hot dogs, fireworks and backyard barbecues. Like Memorial Day, I believe many people have forgot the true meaning of the holiday.

It’s about celebrating America and the people that make America great.

What happened the summer of 1776 in Philadelphia was great. It birthed the greatest nation ever. We would be doing a disservice to our Founding Fathers if we did not remember why we celebrate that day.

But also we need to celebrate great Americans and American greatness.

Among many things, one of the things my father gave me was a love for country and a deep respect for all that work to keep us free and safe.

America is a truly great country. Yes, we have our flaws, but what thing out there is perfect? Answer: nothing.

But the people here are great. We have so many selfless, dedicated individuals in our community who work so hard to keep us safe and free.

I see greatness in America when I drive by the fire station in Hill City. When I see that, I see countless individuals who are willing to risk their lives to save your property.

I see greatness in America when I say the Pledge of Allegiance at a Hill City Common Council meeting. Sure, the meetings can run long and can be tense, but that is what makes America great. When I am there, I see a room full of dedicated people who want the best for their community and a council dedicated to ensuring Hill City is great.

When there are disagreements on the board, it’s only because the board members want what is best for Hill City.

The best part about government? Elections. We the people get to decide who we want to govern. So many people in different countries are not granted this basic human right to this day.

I see greatness in America when I drive into work and I see the Hill City schools. It’s not the institution that makes them great, rather, it is the teachers in the building who make America great.

They are literally shaping the future. The lessons learned in a school influence the future of Americans, the future that will be making decisions for you and me.

Most of all, though, I see greatness in America when I see the numerous American flags in and around Hill City. It makes me think of those who sacrificed their lives to keep us free. I think of the Constitution and how lucky we are to live in a nation governed by a free government.

I think of the amendment that most directly impacts my life — the First (obviously) — and I think there is not one thing I would change about that list of amendments that spell out our most basic freedoms.

And who spelled out our most basic freedoms and rights? The members of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, many of whom signed that very same piece of paper that declared our freedom from Great Britain (see, everything tied in together) on July 2, 1776 with the words approved two days later on July 4.

So this Independence Day, celebrate what makes America truly great. Celebrate our servicemen and women. Celebrate our firefighters, paramedics and police officers. Celebrate our teachers and nurses. Celebrate our right to free elections and our Constitution.

Celebrate the fact that we are beyond lucky to live in the greatest nation ever.


  1. Great Show! I enjoyed the article and wished it had wider exposure. Hi to your mother, sister, Paul,and your main squeeze,who I don’t remember meeting.