On Independence Day, I’m reminded of so many men and women who have made incredible sacrifices to help keep our country free.

Growing up, there were no stories about my dad’s time overseas because he didn’t want to experience it again. When my mom passed, we found letters she had saved from my dad when he was in the Navy. We learned that he was piloting a landing craft that was blown up and sunk in WWII. We also learned that he fell from the third deck of his ship to the main deck during combat. He suffered a broken back and was told he would lose his legs.

After sixteen months in a Navy hospital and refusing to allow them to amputate, he eventually regained the use of his legs through hard work and sheer will. He survived to go on and have seven children, two foster kids, and start an incredibly successful real estate company that still bears his name. He thanked God for his survival by going to Catholic Mass every morning until the day he died. His funeral filled a cathedral with people and filled up another city block in Green Bay with people who just wanted to be there. He was the kind of man I always wanted to be — the type of man who gave everything for something he believed in. Our military today is full of people like my dad, who believed in something so much bigger than himself.

On Independence Day, I hope we can all remember that despite our political differences, religions, and ideologies, one of the most important things we have is freedom. The freedom that we are continuously given because of people like my dad.

Please take some time this weekend to be grateful for these incredible people this Independence Day.