On Olympic Day many of us Olympians and Olympic hopefuls tweeted out messages about how we define Olympism, as well as the significance and novelty of the Olympic Games. In my own message, I thought it would be nice to recognize what a special event the Olympics are for the whole world. Despite the intense battle for the gold medal, sportsmanship, perseverance and honor are held as the epitome of what the Olympics stand for. The Olympics bring the world together in celebration, allowing cultures and people to connect in new and different ways.

There are many reasons why being an Olympian is special, but one thing I always come back to is the ability to represent your country. Along with the fanfare and celebration, there is a certain sense of honor and duty you feel when you realize you are an ambassador for the U.S. In this moment of realization, the connection you feel with your country and the people you represent is strengthened.

This is of course a very patriotic time of year. A great time for all of us to celebrate the birth of our great nation, and to recognize those who do our country proud. Without the support of the country and people we represent, the significance of our accomplishments, both Olympic and otherwise, are diminished. In fact, much of what we accomplish wouldn’t even be possible without public support. Tuning in to our sport and cheering us on while we’re competing at the Olympic Games is a great way to show your support, but there are a lot more ways to show you care. Donating money is always greatly appreciated, and even just tweeting at us throughout the year and finding ways to let us know you care is just the best. You can’t imagine how great it makes us feel when the people we’re going to battle for go out of their way to say good luck.

Lastly I’d like to take this opportunity to say how grateful Meryl and I are to everyone that makes this country so special. Every facet of society that makes America different from the rest of the world is something we celebrate, and something I like to think we take with us to each competition as we rep the stars and stripes.