Today is July 4th, the 231st anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Many keep the holiday close to their hearts, understanding the meaning of this celebration. Others see it as a time to party, using fireworks in addition to the traditional summer party fare – burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, and all the other fixin's. And yet others see it as merely another day off.
I am of both the first and second persuasion, holding close to my heart and as a time to party with friends and family to celebrate the birth of one of the greatest nations to ever exist on the earth.
I know that many will disagree my observation that this is the greatest nation. Most of them live outside this country. Unfortunately the rest live within the US, seeing our nation as the cause of all the worlds ills and blinding themselves to the evils committed by others, as if small actions by America that they find objectionable are far more serious than large scale wrongs committed by other nations. It seems they want the US to be perfect, slamming every perceived imperfection as a crime against humanity. But America is made up of members of the human race, and as such, we are fallible. We make mistakes. We will never be perfect. And that is a crime in the eyes of those looking for perfection.
I have two words for those of you looking for that: Lighten up.
There are so many others that love this nation, imperfections and all. Many were born here. Many were not. It's not that we ignore the problems with this country. If anything we are far more aware of them than not. But we also understand that treating our shortcomings as some kind of stain upon humanity will not solve those problems.
The United States of America is the culmination of an experiment that started with the creation of the Magna Carta almost 8 centuries ago. Over those centuries ideas and philosophies were developed, tested, and modified, trying to come up with a balance that worked. I'd say we're pretty close to that today.
America has been the land of promise for many generations, calling people from all over the world to its shores to find the freedoms they did not have in their homelands. Success was never assured. So many came here with little and made a life for themselves and their families. They worked hard and, for the most part, succeeded in their endeavors. Their children reaped the benefits of their labors, and in many cases exceeded the successes of their parents and lived the American life to its fullest. Many of those who chose to become Americans also put their lives on the line to defend it, answering the call to duty and, in many cases, giving their lives to secure the freedoms so hard won by their predecessors.
It is they we celebrate, those born here and those that came from far away places, not just the Founding Fathers. It is they who have kept the faith, knowing that as flawed as we are we are striving to be better. It is what the Fourth of July is really about. It is what we are truly celebrating.