Happy July 4th! Independence Day is my favorite holiday.
On this vacation we celebrate something that many of us complain about for the rest of the year: our democratic institutions.
As a first generation American I love the freedom that this country represents. 239 years ago, The United States was the first nation to be founded with a formal statement that asserted the people’s right to choose their own government.
That’s a pretty cool fact.
The Declaration of Independence was a bold statement of ideals by profoundly practical men. It’s signficance rolls down through the ages, and continues to be an inspiration to oppressed people around the world.
The words were chosen carefully. “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.” These most famous lines from Declaration give me chills.
As a radio guy, I applaud NPR’s Morning Edition for its annual tradition of having hosts, contributors and commentators read the Declaration aloud.
From the beginning – “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another” – until the end – “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor” – the sound of those profound words, written at a time of great danger, never fails to impress.
Despite a steady decline in trust in national institutions in recent years, “questioning the aims and efforts of government is a foundation of American citizenship. It’s how the nation was born,” writes Lynn Vavreck, a professor of political science at U.C.L.A. in The New York Times. “The colonists didn’t trust King George III, and they carefully laid out their reasons for breaking away from his rule in the Declaration of Independence.”
But still we celebrate the 4th with fireworks, parades and barbecues. For one day each year it’s time to put aside our complaints about the President, Congress, law enforcement and our system of justice. We are lucky to be Americans.
At a time of doubt, division and even disgust with government, this country is still a beacon of hope for tens of millions of immigrants and many others who wish they could live here.
Although I was born in the USA, my parents were British and moved me back to England as a child. After going to school there, I chose to leave my family and return. I am glad that I did.
So grab a burger, pour a cold one, and celebrate the Fourth with pride and gratitude for America and the best of its principles.