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Happy Independence Day

American flag over Forward Operating Base Baylough, Zabul Province, Afghanistan (Photo Credit: United States Army)
American flag over Forward Operating Base Baylough, Zabul Province, Afghanistan (Photo Credit: United States Army)

On this date, 235 years ago, our forefathers brought forth our republic on some very simple, yet powerful premises:

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.

Today is the date we mark our independence and celebrate the freedoms that we, the people, have created in our constitutional democratic republic.  We will take time away from our lives, our work, our school, to enjoy a day of rest, barbeques, sitting by the pool, with an evening of fireworks, block parties, and celebration.

Here at Bruins Nation, the folks behind the scenes are a motley crew that could be a poster for diversity day.  We come from different socio-economic backgrounds, different geographic regions, share different political views, are employed in a variety of jobs, and come from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds.  And yes, we are all united in our love for all things UCLA.  We bleed blue and gold here at BN.

But more importantly, we all bleed red, white, and blue.  All of us here are deeply united in our appreciation for the freedoms that our republic's independence affords us.  We get to do something special here at BN: we get to express our feelings, our thoughts, and our opinions, openly, honestly, and without fear of punishment, penalty, or censorship.  We are afforded the opportunity to openly question a state institution (read: Morgan Center and Murphy Hall), and while yes, it is regarding something that in the greater scheme of life and the universe is a bit trivial (sports, that is), we have that freedom.  One need look no further than North Korea to see that many of our fellow members of mankind still live under repression, without freedom, where even questioning state-sponsored sporting institutions could lead to censorship, imprisonment, or execution.

For me, today is a powerful reminder that those freedoms, the right to believe what you wish, to express yourself openly and honest, and most importantly, to pursue your happiness, are not free.  It sounds very cliche, but since 1775, young American men and women have fought and died to secure those freedoms.

Today, you will probably enjoy a barbeque, the company of friends and family, watch fireworks, and enjoy your day free of work or school.  But, across the globe, there are thousands of young Americans who will not be.  They will be in uniform, in some far-flung corner of the globe, away from their beloved friends and family.  They will be in harm's way, risking their lives, having surrendered their personal liberty to the service of our republic's armed forces, and putting on hold their pursuit of happiness, all in our name, the people.

Remember those Americans, past and present, whose last full measure of devotion to our republic has secured for you and your family, the freedom to enjoy today's festivities.  But as you travel home from this holiday weekend, when you see them, on the train, in the airport, waiting for a bus, thank them.  They come from all parts of our great nation.  They include Bruins, Bears, Ducks, Wildcats, Sun Devils, Beavers, the Cardinal, Huskies, Cougars, Utes, Buffaloes, and even (hated) Trojans.  Shake their hand and wish them well, because no matter what your alma mater is (even if it is hated USC), we are Americans. Across the globe, those young Americans in uniform, from all parts of America, are giving their all for us to enjoy this day, so honor them by doing so. 

Go out and enjoy today.  Soak in the sun, enjoy a cold beer, spend time with your friends, neighbors, family, etc.  Savor the barbeque, relax in the absence of work, and revel in the fireworks and celebrations of our republic's independence.

Happy Independence Day!