If you’re like most people, Independence Day brings to mind all-things Americana: Will Smith chasing aliens, Dad’s “famous” cookout, and loads of illegal fireworks.  For me however, it brings to mind a 22-year-old Salvadorian woman.  Before you elect me governor of South Carolina, let me explain…

This weekend I’ll be celebrating that 233 years ago, the idea of a free nation became a reality.  That a land of promise, opportunity, and choice – founded on God’s principals of right and wrong – became a living body, filled with the sacrificed breath of our founding fathers.  I’ll celebrate that our nation’s commitment to freedom shines so brightly that people still come here from around the world to bask in its warmth – people like that 22-year-old Salvadorian woman.

When she arrived, her pockets were empty, but her heart was full.  She worked “menial” jobs to support herself and, understanding that education is the national key to prosperity, saved enough money to enroll in English classes.  After learning the language of her new nation, she continued her studies and earned a GED, an associates degree, and eventually a bachelor’s degree in education.  She married, had children, and raised them to appreciate what America has to offer – salvation through hard work and education.

I’ll have the opportunity to see her this weekend.  Retired from a career in education, she is still quick to remind anyone who will listen that because so many sacrificed so much 233 years ago, she had the opportunity to make a life for herself and the generations that now follow her.

On July 4th, I plan to take a moment to think about what Independence Day is all about.  It isn’t just the BBQ, though I love a mean burger, and it isn’t just the firecrackers, though they’re fun too; Independence Day is about much more than that.  It’s about appreciating and honoring the sacrifices of others, like that Salvadorian beauty I’ll be visiting this weekend.  I’m even going to make time to take a photograph with her, after all, what son doesn’t want a picture with his mom.

L. Vance Taylor has worked to advance the mission of homeland security on Capitol Hill and in the private sector. One of only approximately 250 people in the nation with a Master’s degree in Homeland Security, Mr. Taylor combines specialized educational training with real-world experience to leverage successful outcomes for clients and stakeholders. Read More