This day set aside to celebrate our freedom – Fourth of July – is a holiday that is taken for granted, in my mind anyway.

This day set aside to celebrate our freedom – Fourth of July – is a holiday that is taken for granted, in my mind anyway.
Many of us have hardships, heartaches or just feel overwhelmed with the curveballs that are thrown our way, but we always have the freedom to choose whether we dodge the ball or catch it head on. Americans have the privilege of making their own choices, and whether they're good or bad, they are still our own.

I'd like to say I'm the person who catches whatever is thrown my way, but that wouldn't be true. I've dodged many circumstances and people, but mostly confrontations, as I simply just don't want to exert that much energy when someone is angry. We are fortunate to be able to say or write whatever we think and can give our opinion anytime we want to, although sometimes it can stir the pot so much, it boils over. What I'm trying to say is, I'm getting on my soapbox again and hopefully it doesn't offend anyone, but here it goes anyway.

We are free to choose what career path we take in life but doesn't it seem a little lopsided that the average salary of a professional athlete is 25 times higher than what we offer to those who fight for our freedom or protect us in our own homes? As part of the military, being a police officer or firefighter, they put their life on the line for us, yet their compensation is lower than the national average for salaries paid to professionals. If they're not professionals, who is? I love sports, love watching it, but are their talents worth more than those who will save our lives? Our military men and women return, after serving our country, to find that their fight for our freedom has cost them their homes, their job and sometimes their sanity, while many don't even get the chance to come home.

I'm proud to be an American, grateful for my freedom and pledge allegiance to the flag, but wonder what path, as a society, are we choosing to take? Has our freedom caused us to be so footloose and fancy free that we've forgotten the last line of the Declaration of Independence.

"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."
Those who protect us have made a pledge to our lives and honor, shouldn't we see to it that their "fortunes" are taken care of? Happy Fourth of July and a heartfelt thank you to those who serve, sacrifice and protect and are willing to always catch the curve balls head on.
Sandy Turner lives in the Kansas City area and writes this column for GateHouse Media.