I have heard a lot of friends talk about how they are not going to honor the fourth this year and I get it. Our country is a mess and a lot of what our Supreme court is doing is frightening and enraging to many people. As a country, we are divided and certainly are not living up to the promise embedded in our founding documents. We are not living up to the promise of America at its best.
This is exactly why I choose to celebrate the fourth (though for me, it’s muted. I ain’t going out in ninety-degree heat to grill lol bad grammar intended!). I’ll make offerings to our revolutionary war dead and hang my flag and we’ll have a nice dinner. I do this not because I think America is perfect – I’m an educator. I think America is FAR from perfect. I do this because we need to remind ourselves of what a remarkable experiment America is, and what truly extraordinary documents the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of rights are. I can’t help but think about the protests this past year in Hong Kong. People were singing our national anthem and waving our flag because they recognize the best ideals embedded in the idea of “America.” The fourth is a call to live up to those ideals every day and to demand our politicians do so as well.
I celebrate the fourth as a reminder that we haven’t yet lived up to the promise embedded in those documents and in the better choices our fore fathers and mothers made. I celebrate as a reminder that the Constitution is one of the most flexible and remarkable documents ever written in any country’s history. It is a flexible scaffolding designed to guide the country into the future. When that document was written, there had been nothing like it in the world. It came out of a desire for independence and freedom, and yes, equality (though thankfully our understanding of what that word means has grown since 1776). It was not inevitable that America would come to be as a nation. It is not inevitable that it will continue. Nothing is set in stone and that is why it is important to know our history. We have to know where we failed but also where we were victorious, where our best natures prevailed. We need to know where we come from in order to know what to cherish about our history and what to carry into the future. Nothing is inevitable. Each one of us has the opportunity to decide what tomorrow will be. Happy fourth.