By the time you read this the 4th of July will be on top of us. It is the most important and celebrated non-religious holiday in our country. Workers are off, grills are heated up, beaches are full, flags fly, and fireworks are shot. Celebrations go on all day and well into the night.
Everyone loves a day off, BBQ, fireworks, and a party, but do we know what we are celebrating anymore? This 4th of July will be the 245th anniversary of our great country. Do we still remember the holiday is to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence by which our forefathers declared our freedom from England?
Our founding fathers who drafted the Declaration of Independence took a great risk in declaring the country’s freedom and signing their names. John Hancock purportedly said he signed his name large so King George wouldn’t have to use his spectacles to read his name. Each signer was successful and wealthy.. If the young country had lost the resulting War for American Independence, each of the signers and many other American leaders would have been declared traitors to the English Crown and subsequently executed.
The signers all knew the risk they were taking. They deemed the freedom of the country to be more important than their own wealth and success; they put their lives on the line to establish a country of freedoms. But freedom is not easily achieved, and America was not declared free until a long and protracted war was fought and won.
A few years ago I had a driver in Atlanta who had immigrated into the U.S. from Ethiopia. I asked him what he thought about the U.S. I still remember his answer clearly. He said, “America is a wonderful country with so many opportunities. Americans don’t realize it. I could never have worked hard, bought a car and made a living as a driver in my country. The leaders wouldn’t have let me.”
The southern border is overrun with immigrants as they seek a better opportunities, freedoms, and a chance to make a better life for themselves. There are so many more people who are repressed but don’t have the opportunity to immigrate into the U.S. They continue to suffer and live the life forced upon them by their country’s leaders.
As Americans, we have more freedoms than any other people on earth and more freedoms than anyone has ever known in history. We have never known anything except freedom, but we often seem to take our freedoms for granted.
Even more troubling are the many people holding only contempt for those who have fought for our freedoms. Some apologize for actions that our forefathers took to win our freedoms; some condemn actions our country’s defenders took in maintaining our freedoms. Others vilify those founding fathers who took risks for our freedom because they lived their lives in ways we deem unacceptable in today’s society.
Instead of focusing on how our forefathers should have reacted to the situations in their times, we should focus instead on how much they sacrificed for our freedoms and our way of life. Few others in history have made the same investment and had the success of early Americans. Our freedoms have not come easy and were not easily protected. We should also recognize how fragile our freedoms truly are and how we all need to come together to protect those freedoms. We should remember how many people want the freedoms we have and how many people are determined to take the freedoms away from us.
We should think of immigrant drivers who see America as the opportunity they would never have in their native countries. We should think of the crowds at the southern border seeking a better life without the violence in their native countries.
The 4th of July would be a great time for all of us to reassess our blessings and pledge to come together as a single people to maintain our way of life and the freedoms we hold so dear.
I hope you have a great 4th and a good month.