Mike Rowe has made a living from telling stories. And not just in Dirty Jobs, the TV show that made him famous. He has a podcast, The Way I Heard It, a book with the same title, and a TV show called The Story Behind the Story, all dedicated to telling interesting historical tales with a twist. 

Inspired by Paul Harvey’s 1970s radio program The Rest of the Story, Rowe makes you wait till the end of the story to find out, for example, the name of that guy who had to eat bull testicles in order to woo a young farm girl. (Spoiler alert, we’re talking about former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who didn’t end up marrying former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor after all.)

Ahead of Independence Day, Rowe is now releasing a film that includes nine such stories and finds Rowe exploring Washington, D.C., to honor our nation’s monuments and its founding. 

Rowe explains in an introduction to Something to Stand For that it isn’t meant to be for Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals. But with tributes to former President Ronald Reagan, Francis Scott Key, and members of the U.S. military, the film isn’t likely to be a hit among the progressive Left. Does that mean it’s conservative?

“Well, if you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” Rowe told the Washington Examiner. “The line I would draw today that’s separating the country first and foremost is not between liberals and conservatives or Democrats and Republicans. It’s between Americans and anti-Americans. … I didn’t write the movie for people who are anti-American, but I guess I did write it because of them.”

Exclusively employing actors and crew from Oklahoma, Something to Stand For is “not in any way, shape, or form a Hollywood project,” Rowe said. It’s the kind of film you might expect to watch on a U.S. Capitol tour or at the National Archives. 

Something to Stand For tells the stories of nine Americans, some more famous than others, who demonstrated bravery, wit, and resilience. In the movie, Rowe refers to the Founding Fathers, for example, as the “one percenters of 1776,” wealthy men who could have enjoyed a cushy life instead of starting a revolution. 

“Unlike most revolutions, ours didn’t start with an angry mob armed with pitchforks and guillotines and nothing to lose,” he says. “That was France. Our revolution started because 56 very wealthy men with everything to lose put everything on the line for a country that didn’t even exist yet.”

Rowe told the Washington Examiner his favorite part of filming was a chance encounter with a 91-year-old Korean War veteran at the World War II Memorial, a moment that appears early on in the movie. Rowe was struck by the “tears of gratitude” streaming down the man’s face as he looked at the memorial to the more than 400,000 Americans who died in the war. 

“You meet a guy in real life and have an unscripted moment that articulates everything I hope the film espouses,” he said. “Well that’s pretty cool.”

On screen and off, it’s clear Rowe is passionate about his country. Whether that makes his work conservative or liberal doesn’t matter as much as the question: Can celebrating our nation’s heroes, historical and modern, help others feel the same way?