I’m not trying to sober up anybody’s 4th of July drinking parade, but I would like to take a moment and remind all of us Americans that the day before the 5th and after the 3rd , is not just about fireworks, burgers and red cups.

Though the Hermosa Beach Iron Man is an important tradition as well as the Strand-house parties and community fireworks, it is just as important to recognize the reason behind why we put on those red and white bikinis and Uncle Sam hats.

Let’s start by recognizing the 1,343,812 men and woman who have died for our country since The American Revolutionary War to our current War on Terror. Let’s also remember each and every single brave man and woman who is currently fighting for our country, as well as all of the surviving veterans who have ever put their life on the line so that we could celebrate our independence.

All you high school graduates out there, who are getting ready to go off to college and celebrate your independence, just remember with independence comes an extreme amount of responsibility. Our country claimed its independence 236 years ago. Relatively speaking, the United States of America is still a teenager. However, though we are one of the youngest, we are the most self-sufficient, smartest and strongest unions in the world. This doesn’t mean we are perfect, but despite our issues (and right now we have a fair amount) we are still the most desired country to live in or be from.

Our country began its independence with 2.3 million people and 13 colonies. Today, according to the United States Census, that number has grown to 313.9 million people.

In honor of our country’s growth and it’s 236th year of independence here is an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence, which was signed in Boston, with 56 signatures on July, 4, 1776, two days after our country declared its independence.

“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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.”

Growing up, my parents’ main concern for me and my sisters was for our safety and happiness.

As individuals and as a country it is nearly impossible to always be 100 percent safe and happy but as Americans it is our responsibility as much as our right to pursue safety and happiness to the extent that is possible.

So while we are drinking, eating and lighting up the sky during this 4th of July week, let us remember there are no rights without responsibilities. Though it is too easy  to focus on the disappointments of our country, we should remember our obligation as Americans to strive for safety and happiness, because without fulfilling those rights, we have failed as responsible Americans.

Happy 236th Independence Day and to many, many more safe and happy years.