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For the last 243 years, Independence Day has been celebrated by proud Americans both at home and abroad. Each year, I look forward to attending various celebrations across Missouri’s 3rd District where food, fireworks and fun are in abundant supply. Whether it’s a day on the Lake of the Ozarks, a backyard barbecue or a local parade, the 4th of July is an opportunity to reflect on the uniquely American freedoms we enjoy in the greatest nation on Earth.

Freedom has always been the driving force of American life, and across this nation, freedom has a different meaning for everyone. For some, it’s knowing they have the freedom to speak what’s on their mind and express themselves. This week, I had the opportunity to meet with our 2019 Congressional Art Competition winner, Gabrielle Miller, from O’Fallon. Alongside hundreds of high school students from across the nation, Miller’s artwork will hang in the United States Capitol for the next year. The artwork of these talented students represents diverse viewpoints and experiences, and each time I walk by, I am encouraged by the freedom of expression being celebrated in our nation’s capital.

For other Americans, our nation stands as a shining example for all freedom-loving people and nations due to our religious freedom. As a lifelong member of the Catholic Church, my faith guides me in my role as your representative. Here in America, each and every citizen can freely practice, worship, and observe the religion of their choosing without any government interference. I cherish my right to pray and worship freely and openly and am thankful to live in a nation that accepts people of all faiths.

As Americans, we all share a common goal: to ensure the coming years are even more prosperous for future generations. In this great nation, economic freedom is what sets us apart from many areas of the world. As your Congressman, I support legislation that ensures all Americans have fair access to an open economy. American consumers deserve strong protections, while also being afforded the opportunity to control their own financial decisions and futures. From Main Street to Silicon Valley, American innovation is made possible by the freedoms we enjoy working toward our American dream.

As we gather with our communities, family and friends in celebration of our independence, we must remember the words of Thomas Paine: ‘Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”

The notion that freedom is not free is exactly what Thomas Paine was talking about more than 200 years ago. So, as you celebrate the Fourth of July, please take a moment to remember our troops both at home and abroad. Their sacrifices ensure that no matter how tough times may get and how weary our nation may become, there is nothing more important than our freedom.

I hope everyone had a happy and safe Independence Day!

U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., shares his perspective each week on national issues, including ones that affect Missouri. He represents the state’s 3rd District, which includes Jefferson City. His local office can be reached at 635-7232.

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