July 4, 2020

We cannot feign respect for our flag, for our country, without showing respect for each other.

“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.

Memorial Day 2019

As I pay my respects to those who have given all in service to this great nation, I pledge to do more and ask each of you to join me. Each action we take, regardless of how large or small, honors those who have sacrificed.

“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. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Since those words were written in 1776, soldiers have fought to defend the ideals defined in our Declaration of Independence.  They have fought not just for that independence, but for liberty, freedom, and equality.

These are more than just words on a page, they represent our unalienable Rights.  They define who we are and what we are as a people.  These Rights have been worth defending since before we were a country and then enshrined in our Constitution after we won the Revolutionary War.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

For 230 years, men and women have put on the uniforms of our armed forces and sworn an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

Throughout that time, millions have served, and thousands have died.

Today, we honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our Nation and all that we stand for.  Several years ago, I wrote that it wasn’t enough just to remember, we must honor the memory.

As hatred and isolationism grow in the United States and around the world, as the press more frequently comes under attack, as our institutions are circumvented, and our very Constitution is questioned, I wonder if we’re truly honoring the memory of all those who have served and sacrificed.

We are still more divided than united when it comes to politics and policy.

Our armed forces do not represent red or blue states, they represent the United States.  There are no Democrat soldiers or Republican soldiers, there are American soldiers.

Today, as we reflect with respect on the service and sacrifice of so many, we should pledge to either put aside or embrace our differences and work to uphold the ideals of unity so many fought and died for.

If we are going to honor their memory and their sacrifice, we must adhere to the same ideals, pledge the same allegiance, and respect the same Constitution.

We honor their sacrifice not with ceremonies and celebrations, but with actions and words.

We honor their sacrifice with a commitment to truth, knowledge, and fact.

We honor their sacrifice with respect, empathy, and care for each other.

We honor their sacrifice by being informed, engaged, and holding ourselves, and each other, accountable.

We honor their sacrifice by continuing to form a more perfect union, not by dividing and demeaning each other.

As I pay my respects to those who have given all in service to this great nation, I pledge to do more and ask each of you to join me.  Each action we take, regardless of how large or small, honors those who have sacrificed.

Words can never convey the deep respect, admiration, and appreciation I have for those who have defended our country and its ideals.  I am thankful for everyone who has ever worn the uniform and sworn the oath.  Today, as every day, I’m humbled to recognize those who gave all in service to the United States. 

Today is Memorial Day, but we should live as if every day is.

May god bless each and every one of you, and may god continue to bless the United States of America.

July 4, 2018

Today is my favorite day of the year.
As a patriot, my love of this country is not about party, it’s not about a specific person, or group, or political belief. It is about the ideas set forth on July 4th, 1776 and cemented with our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Patriot:

a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.

 
Today is my favorite day of the year.
Yes, I love summer. Yes, we all enjoy a day off.
Neither of those is the reason, however.
 
It was 242 years ago when a group of patriots declared their independence from Britain. This was more than a revolution, it was a cause.
A belief that all men are created equal; endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.
 
They set forth not only to dissolve the bonds to Britain, but to create a new form of self-government, in which the government derives its just power from the governed.
This grand experiment had never before been attempted. Change in leadership had always been from violence, or change never happened.
Their idea, our government, was based on a peaceful transition of power. Open and fair elections for all citizens to participate and a free press to speak truth to power. Those powers purposefully separated between executive, legislative, and judicial branches; each equal; none above another, and assigned oversight for each other. The real power lies within the People of this great nation.
 
Today, those truths are not as self-evident, and sometimes truths aren’t evident at all.
The power of the People has been diminished by the power of the dollar.
The press, while still free, is not as independent, thanks to media ownership rules, and battling a campaign labeling different or opposing views as fake.
The oversight among branches of government has been largely sidelined by partisan loyalty.
 
Despite the challenges, we still are the oldest existing nation with a constitutional government in which the people elect their own government and representatives.
Our Republic is facing crisis, but the foundation is solid. We, The People, must continue to use our voice, we must vote for Country over party, we must retain our Rights, and ensure that the Founders concept for a government of the People, by the People, and for the People shall not perish from this earth.
 
As a patriot, my love of this country is not about party, it’s not about a specific person, or group, or political belief. It is about the ideas set forth on July 4th, 1776 and cemented with our Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Too often, politically, we see opposition for one as support of another. We should look beyond petty loyalties, and look to underlying belief. What is best for the country may not always align with your political view, but patriotism isn’t about politics, it’s about country.
So today, as we wave the flag and watch the fireworks, take a moment to reflect upon your own patriotism. Can you put your love of country ahead of a person or a party? Can you accept that we all have been granted the same Rights, enjoy the same freedoms, and believe in the ideals so beautifully expressed 242 years ago?   Are you willing to mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor, as the Founders did?
We must put aside our differences, move beyond our divisiveness, our contempt, and our political loyalties. Please take a moment to read the Declaration of Independence today as a reminder not just of our shared past, but of our common future, as the United States of America.
 
Have a safe and happy Independence Day.
Happy Birthday to the United States of America!