On this 4th of July, this day of celebration of the birth of our great nation, I’d like to take a few minutes to…sound a little less pompous.
Today is the 4th of July!!! Happy birthday, United States of America!!! You’re still looking pretty good for a 240 years old.
Jokes aside, our country has endured for 240 years. Think about that. 240 years. That’s 12 generations of people who have lived, loved, worked and raised families here. And 12 generations of people that all too often have had to fight and die to defend this country.
I’m not going to talk about that, though. There are tons of people who will tell you all about it much better than I can. What I’m going to talk about is how I feel on this 240th Birthday of the United States of America.
We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately. – Benjamin Franklin
First off, notice that I said “United States of America” and not “America”. Think about that difference. Almost no other country on earth declares in their very name that they are independent states working together as a group. Think about that for a minute. The definition of state is “a nation or territory considered as an organized political community under one government.” In ￼other words, a country. So essentially, the United States of America is a cooperative group of 50 independent countries working together for the common good.
It’s a (pardon the pun) revolutionary idea. And unlike a lot of other revolutionary idea, it’s a very good one. One that has stood the test of time and proven itself. So much so that we’re now seeing other collections of States joining together for common good…with common laws, free (as in unrestricted) travel and easier inter-State trade – the European Union or the United Arab Emirates come to mind.
a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action
b : liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another
Second, freedom is essential to the survival of the United States of America. There was another Union of States in recent memory that didn’t have freedom – no unrestricted travel, no local autonomy. They didn’t make it. That country, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, dissolved because they weren’t free. They only paid lip service to the idea of a Union of States…and so they failed.
As I sit here in front of my computer typing this, I’m aware of those freedoms. I can say pretty much anything I want to about our elected leaders (also known as our employees) without fear of retribution. The only thing I have to avoid is saying anything that falls under the legal definition of slander. And even if I do cross that line, it’s a civil matter and I’ll get sued. I won’t get arrested and thrown in prison for it. Take a second and think about that…and how it’s been throughout history…and how it is in so many other countries. And then thank your Maker that you were born in or able to emigrate to the United States of America.
Give us your tired, your poor…
Which brings me to my third and last thought for today. We’re all immigrants or the descendants of immigrants. As I’ve pointed out before, “Even the Native Americans originally came here from somewhere else.” We’re strong because of our melting pot heritage. We’re strong because we are a collection of people and ideas and beliefs and faiths from all over the planet. We’re strong because we’ve chosen to live together peacefully (usually) and work together (for the most part) toward a common good.
The Great Seal of The United States of America has the words “E pluribus unum” inscribed on it. That means “Out of many, One.” One Nation, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all. Not “with Liberty and Justice for all that are like me.” For ALL. For every single citizen of the United States of America, regardless of their country of birth, regardless of their faith, regardless of their skin color, regardless of their political party. For everyone.
That freedom is what makes the United States of America the shining light that it is. It’s the thing that makes people from all over the world want to come here. Because we have what they don’t have. We’re free. Our destiny is whatever we can make it, not what some local warlord or terrorist says it is. And as citizens of the United States of America, it’s our duty to welcome “the homeless, tempest tossed” and give them and their children the freedom they crave and the opportunity to contribute to our great nation and make it even greater. To do anything less would be un-American and would betray the ideals that our Founding Fathers had when they declared the birth of The United States of America.
Happy birthday to us all!