The 4th of July, the day the United States became a country as they embraced the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

The thirteen colonies of that day would grow into 50 states, enduring several brutal wars — the Civil War, WWI and WWII, to name the largest of them, before it really surfaced on the world stage as a superpower. Countless lives were lost in securing all of the things we have today in these wars, and many others. The United States is not a perfect place, and while its freedom ought to be enjoyed, that same freedom must be upheld every single day by its citizens. Traditional American values can be applied to the modern world — things like perseverance, independent thought, chasing the life of your dreams regardless of religion or class, and the constant desire to improve both yourself and the nation in which you live.

Holidays are just days in the year — they only have value because we endow it upon them. Had the Declaration of Independence been adopted on some other day, the 4th of July would roll around as unremarkable as the days that preceded it. But these days are more than simple anniversaries of an event — they are a reminder of why such events are so significant. Independence Day in particular is a reminder of the men and women that built this country, and the values they founded it upon.

Sure, these are things Americans ought to remember all the time. But, like myself, they are human and it’s easy to forget. Holidays like the 4th of July are good reminders of those things.