A South Dakota Fourth of July
By Sen. John Thune
There are a lot of qualities that make South Dakotans some of the greatest people in America. They’re humble, honest, and thoughtful, and they know a hard day’s work and the true value of a dollar better than anyone else. South Dakotans have an immense respect for what it means to be an American and are grateful for the extraordinary blessing of having been born here, the freest country in the world. More than that, though, they understand those blessings came with a price – an immeasurable amount of blood, sweat, and tears. All that to say, the true meaning of July 4 isn’t lost on the people who call South Dakota home.
Independence Day is one of those holidays that’s celebrated in different ways by different people, but all with an underlying sense of pride and patriotism. I think that’s exactly what the men and women who’ve laid down their lives on our behalf would have wanted, and it’s a right for which our military heroes continue to fight and protect to this day.
For as many communities as there are across South Dakota, there’s as many unique and enjoyable Fourth of July celebrations. The cowboys and cowgirls at Belle Fourche’s Black Hills Roundup and Rodeo, one of the oldest annual outdoor rodeos in America, will ride in the 97th annual event this year. The week-long experience includes a parade, fireworks, the Miss Rodeo South Dakota contest, and the big rodeo itself, of course. While you’re in the Black Hills, the Crazy Horse celebration is a sight to see, considering it usually includes an explosion or two as the monument continues to take shape.
It goes without saying, but while each of those celebrations and the dozens more that take place across the state are worth seeing on their own, nothing quite compares to spending July 4 at Mount Rushmore. On any given day, you’d be hard-pressed not to feel a rush of patriotism while visiting Borglum’s tribute to some of our nation’s Founding Fathers, but add the excitement of July 4 to the mix, and I don’t think it gets more American than that.
Whether you and your family are camping, hiking, or firing up the backyard BBQ this Fourth of July, I hope it’s a safe, enjoyable, and memory-filled day. Wherever you are and whichever parade you attend, don’t miss the steely-eyed men and women marching quietly near the front. They won’t be tossing any candy and they won’t be riding on a flashy float. For our veterans, carrying the stars and stripes has a little extra meaning that day, and it’s something we should always honor and never forget.