Thursday, July 4, 2013

Reflections on Independence Day

As we commemorate the 237th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the foundational document of the United States of America, I am grateful and proud to live in a country whose ideals are to treat all people equally under the law and guarantee everyone the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Although there have been numerous examples in our republic’s distant and more recent history of times when it did not live up to those higher principles, it is the often too slow, typically erratic, but nevertheless unyielding march toward greater freedom that so inspires me about American history.

It’s never been an easy road. Too many battles -- bloody physical ones and exhausting emotional ones -- have been fought, uncountable casualties amounted, and generations later the scars of the Civil War, Civil Rights Movement, and various social uprisings such as the Stonewall Riots still haunt and affect us.

It is through the sacrifices of countless brave men and women that our union is stronger and more perfect in 2013 than it was when the country was first founded in 1776. Every achievement was a hard fought, well-earned victory that cost too many people much too much.

But the hard work isn’t over yet. Many people -- among them immigrants, LGBT-Americans, Wal-Mart employees, etc. -- still struggle for the dignity, equality and liberty that America offers many others and is supposed to offer to all.

It is my hope that as we flip our burgers and watch the fireworks this Independence Day, we will celebrate our good fortune to live in this country and honor it for all of its incredible, unmatched achievements. But I also hope that we will take a moment to reflect on America’s past, present and future so that next year we can celebrate an even more perfect union.

Happy Fourth of July to all of American’s peoples!