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.

Pay It Forward Day 2019

“It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising their sovereignty.” – James Monroe, born on this date in 1758

Today is Pay It Forward Day.

Rather than simply holding a door or buying a cup of coffee for a stranger, I’m making a much bigger ask this year.

Raise your voice to ensure that attacks at schools, churches, synagogues, and other places of worship, work, and education, are unacceptable; that perpetrators are held accountable, and that violence and hatred have no place in our society.

Hold your elected officials accountable and push them to focus on the important aspects of our society:  our health, our education, our infrastructure, and our safety.

Both parties are guilty of distracting us from what we need to capitalize on what they want.

We should not accept the narrative from either side but focus on what is best for ALL Americans.

No one should go bankrupt to care for their child or spouse, and everyone should have access to quality, affordable care.  Treatment options and outcomes should be dependent on science, not on geography.

All children deserve an education that prepares them for a successful future, that establishes a lifelong yearning for knowledge, and a quest for truth and facts that drive their decisions today and tomorrow.

We will no longer abide by partisan divisiveness and insurmountable debt while our critical infrastructure crumbles.  We must have dependable roads, bridges, and tunnels.  Children should have safe passages to their schools, and our utilities should be reliable, efficient, and secure.

We should not live in fear of our neighbors, the police, or our government.

Government derives its just powers from the governed, and it is beyond time we take our rightful place in oversight.

“It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising their sovereignty.”  – James Monroe, born on this date in 1758

On this Pay It Forward Day, let’s preserve the legacy and memories of our Founding Fathers, our military veterans, and all who have sacrificed to guarantee our way of life, based on our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and our Bill of Rights.

We must continue to pay it forward with our passion, our commitment, and our voice, to ensure we remain a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Thank you!

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!

Responsibility in Politics

What we should be seeking in our elected officials isn’t an ideology, it is responsibility.
We have the power of choice, and the freedom of expression. It’s time we used them wisely.

Is the system broken, or are we?
Politically, we may not be who we think we are, so when we vote, are we making an informed choice, or a reactive one?  We are individuals, yet typically identify with a collective, even when it’s detrimental to some of our beliefs.
For those who identify as liberal or conservative, perhaps it’s time to look in the mirror and decide if that represents the entirety of your views.  While each of us has some component of each philosophy, some lean much more one way than the other. As a personal belief, there is nothing wrong with that. As a political ideology, it gets more complicated.  When it comes to governing, it is ineffective.
What we should be seeking in our elected officials isn’t an ideology, it is responsibility.
E. Pluribus Unum.  Out of many, one.
Our motto says it all. We are a vast and diverse Nation with many beliefs, traditions, ideas, philosophies, and desires.  Each of us is guaranteed the right to have our own opinions, and the right to express them. We can express them in many ways; where we live, how we shop, the friends we keep, the jobs we hold, and who we vote for.
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It is that very vote that makes it so critical for elected officials to separate their personal ideologies from the ability to govern.
Leadership is the culmination of skills required to create an inspiring vision of the future, motivate people to engage with that vision, and deliver on it.
Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
True leaders will build consensus and act on the best interests of the entire Country. When we allow our partisan desires to disrupt the process, stall legislation, and enrage those with different beliefs, we do a great disservice not just to each other, but to our democracy.  Any time one party pushes too far to one side, the pendulum inevitably swings far to the other side.  Opposition is not leadership, nor is inaction.
It isn’t difficult to see the future continuing to be a divisive one, with swings from one side to the other, and back again. It is just as easy, however, to envision an environment of collaboration, where Congress, despite their individual beliefs, collectively works to legislate for all.
For those in the electorate on the extremes, your anger and disappointment will never fully be assuaged.  While there will always be small victories, extreme views never play well in national politics.
For the rest of us, who tend to be a little of each philosophy, while we may never be fully happy, we will never be completely disappointed.
Our Republic was created to ensure that each of us has a voice, and that all our voices are equal.
Rather than work to divide, and to push an agenda doomed to eventual failure (and dismantling by the next Congress/Administration), we should work to unite, and elect responsible representatives. It is only then that we can move past this period of extreme division and disappointment, and begin to fulfil the Founders vision of democracy, where all men are created equal, and government exists to preserve the Rights of the People.
It is easy to place blame, judge others, and express frustration with the ‘system’.  Taking a critical look inward is difficult, as is accepting responsibility.  Our National identity, however, should come before any party one.
Whether we like it or not, we are all in this together.  We have the power of choice, and the freedom of expression.  It’s time we used them wisely.

Strength in our Diversity & our Unity

What makes America strong is our diversity AND our unity.

16 years ago, we faced our darkest day when terror reached our shores in an unprecedented display of devastation and destruction.
On that terrible September morning, we did what American’s do best, we came together as one to help and console each other, and to stand united in the face of fear.
We did not ask about politics, religion, race, sex, or anything else; we accepted the helping hands of strangers and relied on unknown shoulders to cry on.
America responded as we always have, with unity.  We joined together with a combined mission to ensure that we were safe, that this would never happen again, and that those responsible would be brought to justice.
After 16 years, however, we seem to forget the strength in our community.  We have spent too much time focusing on the things that divide us, rather than those that bring us together.
Make no mistake, what makes America strong is our diversity AND our unity.
We need leadership that can capitalize on this strength, not just in times of crisis, but in times of peace and prosperity.  We need to embrace our differences, celebrate that we can live together, express our opinions and beliefs, and learn from each other.  We must remember that despite the vast differences we bring as individuals, collectively we become the beacon of freedom, liberty, and justice known as the United States.  Our motto says it best:  E pluribus unim; out of many, one.
We must continue to honor the memory of those we lost 16 years ago.  We must continue to be united in that commitment, in our resolve, and for our Country.  To paraphrase Lincoln, we must ensure that this Great Nation, brought forth by our fathers onto this continent, conceived in Liberty, dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, and with a government of the People, by the People, for the People, shall not perish from the earth.
 
#Remember #Honor #911 #Sept11 #Freedom #Liberty #Rights #USA #Diversity #Community #Unity #EPluribusUnum #UnitedStates #Respect

Independence Day

Today is not just about freedom and liberty. Today is about our Rights and the place of government to secure those Rights; the Rights of the People…the governed.

241 years ago today, 56 brave men signed a document that would forever change their lives, and the course of world history.  It was a treasonous act that put each of them, and their families and friends, at great risk.
On that date, July 4, 1776, these representatives from the colonies declared their independence from Great Britain, dissolving the political bands which had connected them with each other.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident” they boldly stated, although at the time, and since, it’s never been completely self-evident.  In today’s divided political climate, even the ‘truths’ are questioned.
Yet, the grand experiment that began 241 years ago today is still running.  Despite our differences, we unite behind our flag and those famous words that changed the world.
 
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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
 
Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. These are our unalienable Rights.  Our government exists to secure those Rights.
Let that sink in for a moment.
We tend to forget the role of government, and where its responsibilities lie.  Today should be a reminder of why we declared our independence, what we expect from our government, and why it is imperative to hold it, and ourselves, accountable.
 
Eleven years after the Declaration was written, we drafted our Constitution, solidifying our form of government and defining its charter:
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.”
 In a time when monarchies were the norm, our Founding Fathers decided on a form of self-government. The government’s purpose was to guarantee our Rights.
Many years later, Jefferson wrote about the Declaration: “all eyes are opened, or opening to the rights of man. the general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth that the mass of mankind has not been born, with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately by the grace of god. these are grounds of hope for others. for ourselves let the annual return of this day, for ever refresh our recollections of these rights and an undiminished devotion to them.”
A poignant reminder from the man who wrote some of the most powerful and significant words in American History.  Jefferson died just a few weeks later, on July 4, 1826.
Those who signed the Declaration of Independence knew how significant their actions were, and pledged “to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor” “for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence”
So today, and on every July 4, let us refresh our recollections of these Rights, what they truly mean, and pledge our undiminished devotion to them.
 
Today, as we celebrate, as we share with family and friends, as we bask in the glory of freedom and fireworks, remember what today is about.
It’s not just a Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. It’s not just the founding words of a new nation conceived. It’s not just about freedom and liberty.  Today is about our Rights and the place of government to secure those Rights; the Rights of the People…the governed.
 
‘Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed’
 
Today, remember the bold actions of those 56 men.  Remember the powerful words that reshaped the world.  Remember the man who wrote them, and honor his life’s devotion to this Great Nation and respect his passing 191 years ago today.
Today, 241 years after that unanimous Declaration, we remain free; not just from the words and actions of those 56 men, forever etched into our history by their signatures, but from the countless men and women who have defended this Nation, and our beliefs, for generations.
Today is a celebration of our Freedom, our Liberty, our Rights, and a solemn reminder of those who believed in them, defended them, and continue to protect them.
 
Thank you, Mr. Jefferson. Thank you to the other 55 representatives who signed the Declaration of Independence. Thank you to all who have served to protect and defend our Constitution, our rights, our freedoms, and our lives.  May God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.
 

July 4, 2015

“The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,”
Much more than just words on a page. They are ideas, ideals and rights.
It is not just about the birth of this great Nation, it is about how we accomplished it.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
So starts one of the most important documents in our history.
Much more than just words on a page.   They are ideas, ideals and rights.
It is not just about the birth of this great Nation, it is about how we accomplished it.
We didn’t just become free, we desired freedom.  We didn’t just fight to be free, we declared our intentions.  We aired our grievances, and laid the foundations for our Constitution, Bill of Rights, and way of life.
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
Each person signing this document was committing an act of Treason against Great Britain, an action punishable by death.   With this Declaration, and the actions that followed, the thirteen colonies would forever be free.
While each colony may have been different, we stood as ‘one people’.
Our differences make us unique, but our beliefs unite us.
We are united in our commitment 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.”
A new Nation was formed with a new government:  “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
‘Just powers from the consent of the governed.’  Perhaps some of the most important and sometimes overlooked words in the Declaration. Our government only has certain powers.  Those powers are granted by the people.  We cannot forget that the government doesn’t give us rights, they are ours.
Liberty and Freedom are still important tenets of our lives.  Every day, brave men and women put on uniforms and risk their life defending our beliefs.   They don’t fight for our government, they fight for our People.  Every day, I’m thankful for all who work tirelessly to protect and defend our freedoms.
We remain a diverse people; it is one of the things that makes these United States great.  We will always have our differences, but we must always bring with them respect.  Respect for other opinions, other cultures, and other ideas.   Our rights come responsibilities, to ourselves and to each other.
As we celebrate today, remember the reason, remember the risk, and remember the sacrifice.
Above all else, remember our rights and that the protection of those rights is the responsibility of the government.  We must continue to ensure that the People, and our Rights, come first.
After 239 years, we’re still learning, but with continued trust and respect, this government of the People, by the People and for the People, shall not perish from this Earth.
Happy Birthday, America.