“It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more”John Adams
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”Thomas Jefferson
I have written several times that the 4th of July is my favorite holiday.
The words, the ideals, written in the Declaration of Independence inspired the birth of a new nation, extolling a government of the People. A government that derives its just powers from the consent of the governed.
I celebrate excitedly each July; the Grand Experiment in democracy…the birth of the United States.
For as much as we can admire the Founding Fathers, they were not without flaws. They were not asking us to idolize them, or even emulate them; they were asking us to believe in them, in the ideas and actions that would change the world.
“They loved their country better than their own private interests; and, though this is not the highest form of human excellence, all will concede that it is a rare virtue, and that when it is exhibited, it ought to command respect. He who will, intelligently, lay down his life for his country, is a man whom it is not in human nature to despise. Your fathers staked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, on the cause of their country. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory.”Frederick Douglass
These conditions do not have to be binary.
We can look to the past with a critical eye, but together we have an opportunity to create a better future.
While the American Dream has been good to me, Jefferson’s truths have not been so self-evident for everyone. Equality has been only a dream for too many for too long. We’ve struggled as a nation to live up to those ideals. We’ve fought, both in courts and on battlefields, for or against equal rights, and equal justice, for all.
That history is just as much a part of our present as it is our past.
244 years later, we still struggle with discrimination; in race, religion, gender, sexuality, and much more.
“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”Edmund Burke
Not only is it incumbent upon us to listen, to learn, and to educate, we have to respect our differences.
Ours is a nation of diversity, of disparity, but it shouldn’t be one of inequity and inequality.
We cannot feign respect for our flag, for our country, without showing respect for each other.
For all those who have fought, and continue to fight, for freedom, liberty, justice, and equality, I am grateful for your passion, commitment, and service.
I celebrate today, with pride and patriotism. Not blindly, but respectfully, not just to the past, but for tomorrow. The America I celebrate is the shining city upon a hill, where we teach history based not on what’s in fashion but what’s important, where everyone lives in freedom and equality. It has been only a dream for far too long. Join me in working towards making it a reality. Our celebrations will be that much more meaningful when we can truly share them with everyone.