Happy Independence Day, everyone!
I like to refer to it as Independence Day instead of July 4th (but it’s totally swag to use either), because I think the term “July 4th” doesn’t always capture the significance of the day. Although I’m sure essentially all of us know what it means haha, I use “Independence Day” because that’s exactly what it is. Today, like every July 4th, we as Americans come to celebrate not just our country’s founders, achievements, or stories, but the country itself and the fact that it exists for us to live in today!
Even now, when it seems that the known world may be crumbling around us, it’s important to take heart knowing that 244 years ago, this country had not yet been formed. And 244 years, we may not be here either. So in truth, it’s not any one piece of land or any one group of people that makes the US- the US. It’s our core values that make us America.
We don’t all believe the same things, and right now, that seems to be more apparent than ever. But I’m not talking about religious values or political values. I’m talking about what truly makes us human and what protects our rights to be human. Rights that were not meant to promise us riches, respect, or reward, but to give us the opportunity to seek those things for ourselves! Rights meant to protect (rather than promise) our families and our livelihoods from dangers that plagued the old world and still haunt us today.
America has not always lived up to its dream. The dark roots of the past often result in the sins of today. America is no more perfect than any other country in what its people have done to others. But I truly believe that there is something that separates our values from others. It’s not that we are the richest, smartest, or most powerful. It’s not even because we are the “Land of the Free and Opportunity”, because, in truth, we haven’t always been. Sometimes, we still aren’t.
I believe that my country is important and I believe in the US because the ideals upon which it was founded mean something. They continue to mean something, and long after this land is gone, they will still mean something. We hold these truths to be self-evident, do we not? The great success of America is that its ideals outlive its evils and that 244 years ago, our Founders would not have even been able to comprehend the scope of the freedoms today that they outlined in the Constitution.
So today, I am not only celebrating the freedom and opportunity that we currently have. I am celebrating the willingness and the possibility of this country to continuously grow in order to let everyone, both inside and outside its borders, enjoy the same freedoms that we all believe in. No matter where you stand politically, we can all come together and stand on the idea that America has not always lived up to its ideals- but we can do so if we work together. That is the opportunity that the founding of this country has given us. Happy July 4th, everyone.