What July 4 Means To Me

Probably not what it means to you. July 4 has a simple meaning in my book. It marks the day our founding fathers aimed to create a more perfect union by branching away from the crown. It symbolizes the day we, as Americans sought to be better. Our founders were highly imperfect people, just like we are. Their vision for this country greatly differs from mine, but I won’t sit here and simply criticize for the sake of doing so. Women belonged in the home. Slavery was the norm. Very few men could actually vote. All counter to what I believe, but over just a couple of short centuries we’ve pushed forward through long odds. Why? Because those founders gave us the framework to do so.

We’re still aiming to be a more perfect union, though it may not always seem so. Our leaders are more black and brown and female than ever before. Our society grows more inclusive with each passing day. Sure, there are lots of issues that should have been settled long ago. But things rarely happen as we think they should.

Happy birthday, America! I know you’ll be even better next year.

Saturday Selects #17: Independence Day

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write on the first Saturday of each month to discuss something outside the general bookish theme of the blog. Today’s topic is out nation’s birthday. Well, my nation anyway.

Today is July 4, which of course is the independence day of the United States. Besides all the fireworks displays that happen all around the country, I really feel like this day is taken for granted by Americans more than just about any other.

Imagine a world in which war had begun. And leaders from the colonies have to sneak away to draft the Declaration of Independence, knowing that if the war is ultimately lost they will all be convicted of treason. The revolution ended in 1783 and the Declaration was adopted in 1776. So you see there was no way of knowing the colonies would ultimately come out victorious.

So I ask that you put yourself in the shoes of a colonist during the revolution. What would you do if war broke out in the only place you’d ever called home? Would you pledge allegiance to a country you’d never even visited? Or would you fight for your freedom? I can’t answer that question as it’s written. Because I don’t know. But I can tell you that if war broke out on US soil today, I’d enlist. And it wouldn’t be a tough decision. Not because I’d want to be some hero or patriot or bloodthirsty soldier, but because this is my country. This is home.

Which probably leads you to wonder at how come I don’t enlist in the military now. Especially since y’all know a little about my job hunt. Well, I don’t have an answer to that. But I respect every person serving in our military more than I can say. Those men and women are more brave and courageous than I’ll ever be.

But let me get back on topic here. What I want to say is that it took years of sacrifice from men and women during the years of the revolution to help get us to this point of fireworks, music, food, and fun every fourth of July. All I ask is that you not forget what this day really means in the history of this great country of ours.