July is the anniversary month of Strictly Business in Lincoln. We are celebrating 29 amazing years of partnering with and promoting local businesses and organizations, and over 15 of those years have been spent serving the Omaha market as well. This last year has been full of change and growth for the magazine—from new faces on our team to implementing new strategies that benefit our awesome clients and readers. Looking back to when my husband Shayne and I founded Strictly Business, we had no idea what the future would hold, but one thing that has never been altered is our commitment to the local business community and its people. I can’t thank our advertisers enough for putting their trust in our magazine, especially clients who have been with us for many, many years. I’m also grateful for all of the awesome employees I’ve had and the unwavering support from my family and friends.

It’s fitting that this month is also when we commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence as Shayne and I are proud Americans and we’re committed to upholding what it means to be an American. It’s one of my greatest hopes that “We the People” don’t lose sight of the American ideals that built and shaped this country.

Being American means being free and having equal opportunity. This freedom is so precious, and it has been fought hard for throughout our nation’s history. However, securing freedom is only half the battle. The other half is defending it and deciding what to do with it. The freedom we have to pursue our own ends—to say what we want and do what we want—is only justified if we have a “public spirit” and concern for the common good. Otherwise, we end up with a toxic amount of individualism. In other words, we’ll be too caught up in our private pursuits that the workings of our economy and government will go over our heads. I encourage you to stay in tune with what is happening in your community and do your part to make it a better place for everyone. This may require the sacrifice of your time and personal agenda, and it takes bravery to stand up for what is right, but it’s our duty as Americans to do so. A quote by President Ronald Regan comes to mind:

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Another value of being an American is hard work. A wave of laziness is crashing on our shores as everything seems to be accessible by the touch of a button. Parents and community leaders have the great responsibility of instilling in our children the importance of working hard. Entitlement is a poison. The danger we face is that hard work has been so critical to the success of all of the other values that make America so great. If we lose the willingness to do the hard work, then all of the other values that are part of America’s foundation may be lost as well.

So, as you’re having fun celebrating the 4th of July this year, take a moment to reflect on what it means to be an American. Enjoy the liberties you’ve been given, but never take them for granted.

Thank you again to our amazing clients, readers, and friends of the magazine who have made these past 29 y ears possible!