Residents of Rexburg are quick to line the streets on Independence Day.

Thousands of people set up camp chairs, lay down quilts or set up canopies to view the parade, but underlying all of the bright colors and red, white and blue floats, what are each individual’s reasons for continuing to celebrate the United States?

A woman in the parade looks on, ready to toss popsicles to eager onlookers.

A woman in the parade looks on, ready to toss popsicles to eager onlookers. Photo credit: Chester Chan

Headlines cast a disappointing tone on the recent United States Presidential debate, and many feel the country is more divided than ever.

Eight African countries are currently in the midst of armed conflicts or civil wars. Haiti is facing increasing violence and political instability, already all too familiar in Venezuela, El Salvador and Honduras. Israel conducts a two-front war with Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Russia and Ukraine continue their now over two-year-long war, painting a picture of instability.

Rexburg, known as "America&squot;s family community," lives up to its name in this picture of young parade-goers.

Rexburg, known as "America's family community," lives up to its name in this picture of young parade-goers. Photo credit: Chester Chan

What is it about America and the principles it represents that, in spite of all the surrounding turmoil domestically and abroad, politically, economically and physically Americans all over the U.S. continue to gather and celebrate with vibrant enthusiasm and unfettered patriotism?

Residents of Madison country share some of their answers.

“The freedom, and the military fight for us,” said Cherie Somsen when asked what she loved most about the U.S. “I lived in up in Toronto, Canada, and they didn’t like the Americans back in the 60s. And it’s the most wonderful place to live here in the U.S.”

"The freedom, and the military fight for us," said Cherie Somsen when asked what she loved most about the U.S.

"The freedom, and the military fight for us," said Cherie Somsen when asked what she loved most about the U.S.

Somsen’s father installed computer systems for the military, which led to her growing up in places all over the world.

Somsen’s favorite holiday is the Fourth of July, and she even has an Americana-themed room that she keeps decorated year-round.

Children wave to one another in the parade.

Children wave to one another in the parade. Photo credit: Chester Chan

“I like the people, how they feel like it’s a very safe place,” said Bami Renderia from Columbia. “You can do whatever you want. You can go wherever you want. So, I really like that.”

Eramdy Cetima from Mexico loved the happiness you could feel at the parade and observed how patriotic it was.

Eramdy Cetima from Mexico loved the happiness you could feel at the parade and observed how patriotic it was.

Eramdy Cetima from Mexico loved the happiness you could feel at the parade and observed how patriotic it was.

“I think the places that you can go,” Cetima said about her favorite aspect of the U.S. “Like, it’s a lot of nature and a lot of like things to do outside, and I think the best part is maybe because you don’t see these kinds of things in other countries.”

"I think the places that you can go," Cetima said about her favorite aspect of the U.S.

"I think the places that you can go," Cetima said about her favorite aspect of the U.S. Photo credit: Chester Chan

Ben Griffin was never prouder to be an American than when returning home from a mission abroad.

“When I came home from my mission in Russia and touched American soil, I was overcome with gratitude for the freedoms that we enjoy,” Griffin said.

Onlookers line the street as an American flag strung from a firetruck's latter hangs in the background.

Onlookers line the street as an American flag strung from a firetruck's latter hangs in the background. Photo credit: Cat Menlove

Dan Draney experienced a similar experience after returning home from his mission abroad after having something to compare the U.S. to.

Alex Bready, a sophomore studying construction management, whose favorite founding father is George Washington, explains when he feels proudest to be an American.

One parade attendee with a shirt-full of candy poses for a photo.

One parade attendee with a shirt-full of candy poses for a photo. Photo credit: Chester Chan

“Every time I go to church, every time that I get to appreciate the opportunity I have to have religious freedom in this country,” Bready said.

For Bready, it isn’t just about having rights but about what one chooses to do with them.

“Don’t be afraid to stand for what you believe in,” Bready said. “Whatever it may be, this country gives you the right to have it. We wouldn’t be here; we wouldn’t have these rights if we didn’t have people who are willing to stand up and put themselves out there, and sacrifice their lives even, for our freedoms.”