This May, I visited Kyiv to meet with Ukraine’s leaders as they defend their country against Russia’s brutal invasion. It was painful to hear about the impacts of Putin’s aggression directly from Ukrainian officials: mass atrocities, millions of displaced civilians, young soldiers resisting the Russian advance on the front lines of battle.

Only a few months ago, much of the country was peaceful and quiet. Today, fighting rages in Ukraine’s east and south.

In case we needed any reminder this Independence Day: freedom is a fragile thing.

A world away in Kentucky, we are coming together to celebrate July Fourth. We are blessed to live in a peaceful country, free to plant American flags on our sidewalks, watch fireworks, and listen to patriotic songs on the radio. But our freedom is precarious.

246 years ago, our founders signed the Declaration of Independence and issued an appeal for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness heard around the world. Today, those same principles are under attack. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is just one example. The Chinese Communist Party, Iran’s mullahs, and terrorist groups are all eager to squash human liberty.

While we celebrate our independence in Kentucky, 100,000 American soldiers are serving overseas in Europe, shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies and partners and ready to deter further Russian aggression. Servicemembers from Kentucky’s Fort Campbell and Fort Knox are among them, putting their lives on the line to keep us safe at home and protect our interests abroad.

Our decision to support Ukraine is not some frivolous act of charity – it directly and powerfully serves our national interest to deter potential future wars of aggression before they start. The outcome of the fight in Ukraine will have major ramifications for the West. Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party are watching our actions carefully. If they see America and our partners united in common defense, they’ll think twice before using force to threaten democracies around the world.

Of course, foreign policy is just one of the many areas where it is my honor to fight on behalf of Kentucky to keep America’s torch burning brightly.

For my whole career, I have focused on confirming judicial nominees who recognize that the words of the Constitution are sacred. The courts guard the American people against government tyranny. Through them, we’ve pushed back successfully against the Biden Administration’s illegal COVID-related mandates and preserved Kentuckians’ right to live unencumbered by overreaching bureaucrats.

I’m also fighting against the dangerous inflation that’s hitting Kentuckians where it hurts, to the tune of $500 in extra household spending a month. I’ve heard from hardworking constituents all across our state who are falling behind on home payments, late on their utility bills, or cutting back at the grocery store. Despite this spiraling crisis, Washington Democrats want to engage in even more reckless spending and ram through massive tax hikes on the cusp of a potential recession. I am resisting these foolish proposals tooth and nail.

And I’m helping keep our nation’s promise to the nearly 300,000 veterans who call Kentucky home. Just recently, I supported a bipartisan bill to overhaul how we care for toxic-exposed veterans. These heroes put their lives on the line to defend our liberty. It is our responsibility to do all we can to ensure they receive the care they deserve.

Our country is facing enormous challenges at home and abroad. This has led some of our fellow Americans – including some of my colleagues in Washington – to condemn our national heritage and censor our Founding Fathers. On Independence Day, we should all remember why these critics are wrong.

President Ronald Reagan called the United States a “shining city on a hill” for the example we set for our peer nations. After all, we are the people who threw out a tyrannical monarch, defeated the Nazis, and condemned communism to the dustbin of history. Our Founding Fathers enshrined God-given rights in the Constitution that millions around the globe still aspire to secure for themselves.

This Fourth of July, let’s give thanks that, for all its difficulties, America remains the shining city. Freedom is fragile and under assault. But it’s being defended by the greatest country that ever existed.