As I am typing this column, it is Independence Day. This won’t be published until July 6, but I have never felt as much emotion while writing as I do today.

Independence Day isn’t a day set aside for grilling, drinking or blowing things up. It isn’t a day to make Red, White and Blue Sangria or wear the cutest cut off shorts with the American Flag painted on the seat end of them.

Independence Day is a day to reflect on the efforts of countless men and women over the past 240 years that have made this great nation what it is today.

Independence from Britain was voted on in June of 1776, after it was proposed by a Virginian named Richard Henry Lee. After this vote passed, the Declaration of Independence was approved in congress on July 2, but dated on the document as July 4.This is what it is all about, people. Our Founding Fathers risked it all for you and me to enjoy the liberties that we do today.

Our nation may not be in the best of shapes right now, and it has become increasingly evident to me that we may not have a great incline as a nation again for a while.

Last night, I ended up watching the movie 13 Hours, and I was touched in a way that I have never felt before. No words can describe the feeling in my stomach while watching this movie due to realizing that our freedom would be in jeopardy without the brave men and women who are willing to lay down their lives to protect ours.

Regardless of your opinion on war, we should be endlessly grateful for the ultimate sacrifice that has been given and is still given to maintain freedom in this country. Our service men and women face a struggle daily, of not having the funding needed or even the emotional support to properly carry out missions anymore.

We now have people in America who burn our flag and spit on it because they’re so “oppressed.” We all need to realize that regardless of how we feel about American politics at this very moment, we absolutely should not spit upon the country that has given you the freedom to do so. That is privilege, being free to burn flags and try to destroy America from within, while other people are fighting for your ability to freely show your ignorance often with little to no punishment.

We as a nation must do better. We must support Americans who truly have this nation’s greatness at heart. We must learn to respect one another and realize that our feelings don’t negate someone else’s rights. We must come together and fight to become the nation that we once were, a nation whose leaders valued our freedom and fought tooth and nail to maintain it, a nation that once collectively took pride in our military, a nation that once led the world through darkness to see the shining light of democracy and liberty.

We have got to get back to that, or our Founding Fathers will have risked it all for nothing.

Amanda Long is a freelance writer for The Gazette-Virginian.