What Day Do You Celebrate?
“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 words open the Declaration of Independence, signed July 4, 1776 by fifty six men and stated to the world the birth of a great experiment. An experiment, as George Washington called it, where the people governing answer to those they govern. In the 240 years of our country’s existence, we have been tested on every front: in war both abroad and at home, racial tension, gender equality, and an ever-changing concept of the rights of the government versus the rights of the people. Our country, our citizens have always answered the call.
One of my favorite memories was shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. That afternoon, every member of Congress, both Republican and Democrat, stood on the steps of the Capitol and sang “God Bless America.” Politics didn’t matter that day, or the days that immediately followed. One thing mattered; we had to preserve our nation. This experiment would not fail.
Of course, as time went on the politics came back and that moment is now lost in history. For most, in today’s America, people no longer celebrate Independence Day. Rather, they celebrate the 4th of July.
Independence Day is a day to celebrate our great nation. It is a day to celebrate overcoming adversity and ensuring we are all created equal, both on the battlefield of war and in the eyes of one another. The 4th of July, however, is a day to celebrate an extra day off work while grilling and watching fireworks.
As the experiment continues, we must evolve; those who don’t evolve with the changing times are lost to it. That doesn’t mean we should forget; the hardships our country faces today are due in part to the hardships conquered by our forefathers.
So I ask you: What day do you celebrate?
In a speech given on Independence Day 2003 outside the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH, President George W. Bush closed his speech with the following:
“To be an American, whether by birth or choice, is a high privilege. As citizens of this good nation, we can all be proud of our heritage and confident in our future. The ideals of July 4th, 1776, still speak to all humanity. And the revolution declared that day goes on. On July the 4th, 2003, we still place our trust in Divine Providence. We still pledge our lives and honor to freedom’s defense. And we will always believe freedom is the hope and the future of every land.
May God continue to bless the United States of America.”