July 4, 1776. The day our nation was founded. As our country approaches its 241st birthday, it is important to realize the effect this day has on us a country. As a country of immense patriotism, the 4th of July is a day of celebration and reunion; despite our flaws, we celebrate the freedom and democracy our country represents. On this day we choose to highlight the good. Here are few things college students think of our country's birthday.

1. Maya Ungar, University of Arkansas

"I'm spending the summer in France, and so the Fourth of July this year is particularly special because I am not celebrating it in the US. From BBQ's to the freedom to protest, the Fourth of July represents the values that others seen in the US, and the values we cherish. It is important to stop and celebrate our principles, not just the ones we were founded on, but also the ones that have grown to become part of our identity throughout our short history. Especially in such a divided political climate, it is necessary to stop and reflect on our country, and there is no better time to do that than the 4th of July.”

2. Mega Nigam, Rutgers University New Brunswick 

"To me, the Fourth of July was a time where my family was finally able to get together under one roof and enjoy a dinner together. And then we would all go to the park behind my house to watch my neighbors engage in a competition of who has the better fireworks. For me, it's a holiday about unification."

3. Gauri Mangala, Gettysburg College 

"Well the Fourth of July is meant to celebrate America's liberation. As a first generation American citizen, I have come up close and personal with the freedoms Americans are granted in comparison to other countries. My parents, who are from India, always remind me about just how patriotic America is, so events like fireworks and barbecues are just really incredible moments to share with them. Regardless of the political climate we are in, I believe in a free and just America, and the fourth of July reminds me of all of that!”

4. Analia Marzoratti, UT Dallas 

"[The 4th of July] acts as a reminder for me of what it is that makes our country great, even when all the political craziness and bad people dominate the headlines and make me feel sometimes that's all we are. Everyone celebrates together our freedoms and the good parts about being an American.”

5. Brandon Lim, UC San Diego

"As a patriot, a believer in democracy and an advocate for progress, to me the 4th of July serves as a reminder of the monumental power the American people wield. It is a day to remember the sacrifices our founders made in the 18th century to establish our nation’s core values, a day to pay gratitude to those who’ve given their lives to protect those core values, and honor the individuals who ensure those values hold true today.”

6. Gari De Ramos, Clark University

"Coming from an international background (Filipino-born, Hong Kong-raised, now in NYC), it’s always amazed me how much pride America has in itself. Especially being Filipino, it’s interesting to observe because The Republic of the Philippines became what it is on July 4, 1946, with the help of the United States because the levels of celebration are insanely different. In America, the stereotype is families get together for a big meal or barbecue, but I’ve never celebrated Philippine independence simply because we just don’t. When I moved to America two year ago, my mom and I had no clue how to celebrate the Fourth of July. I arrived a week before, so we didn’t know anyone or have any plans. Instead, we went to watch the nationally-broadcasted hot dog eating contest in Coney Island. I don’t quite understand what attracts millions of people to watch people eat a lot of hot dogs in a few seconds, nor do I understand the relationship with hot dog-eating to American independence. Given the political climate, I’m even more confused as to how I’ll ‘celebrate’ the fourth of July. I’m not American in any legal sense, since I’m here on a visa. But I’ve spent my last two years and will spend my next four years here. I know historically, this is a holiday about America’s history, but it’s become about America’s pride. America is my home, but it doesn’t feel like mine to celebrate.”

7. Sam Tschida, Florida State

"To me the 4th of July represents all the thousands of sacrifices that soldiers have made in order to protect the freedoms of this country, from its very founding all the way to today.”

As you can see the 4th of July means a lot of things to Americans. Despite our differences, it unites us and highlights the good things our country was founded on. In these increasingly divided times, it is hard for many people to see this day in a positive light. However, many Americans still have hope and use this day to celebrate their pride in our country. It is important to think about what this day means to you and how you as an American can highlight the values the country was founded on.

Lead Image Credit: Oliver Cole via Unsplash