This is not an article that will gush about how great the United States is and why you should be ashamed for not celebrating the 4th of July. I’m well aware that there are many who believe the U.S.A is anything but great, especially at the present moment. However, over the last week I’ve been privy to certain conversations that bash on the U.S. and just about everything related to it, and I’ve felt a bit of a sting in my heart. Not because I approve of everything that’s been happening, but because of the good things that are being forgotten or ignored.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. If you find yourself disenchanted as a citizen of the United States of America, please remember a few things as you formulate your opinions. There are still things worth celebrating.
Remembering Those Who Fought
I’m not a veteran, but my father-in-law is, as well as multiple beloved grandparents. I know Veteran’s Day is set aside to honor and remember them and those who came before, but there is still a strong tie between our veterans and our country. It’s what they defended. It’s what they fought for. Maybe they did it because they love our country, or maybe they were drafted, needed help paying for school, or a multitude of other reasons.
But still they fought.
Their work, sacrifices, and efforts kept, and let us keep, our country as ours. It allows us room to make mistakes, grow, bicker, attempt to work together, and most importantly, learn. Don’t be so quick to throw away something so precious. Lives were laid down for it. If you don’t feel you can celebrate our country, then celebrate the efforts of those who sacrificed to make it ours.
Remembering the Sacrifices Made
Veterans aren’t the only ones who have sacrificed to make this country work. Though there are plenty of crooked, selfish politicians out there, I believe there are a lot of good ones, too. They are the ones trying to push our country to be better each day. It’s a long, hard process, and I can’t imagine walking in their shoes. But they walk. And walk. Day in and day out to try and make a difference. Someone has to do something to make a difference.
Our founding fathers studied and debated and bickered to make us a constitution unlike any other at the time. Because of their work and their sacrifice many other countries have been able to adopt similar governing styles, and more people enjoy more freedoms than ever before.
No, our nation is not perfect. A lot of changes need made. But I still thank and honor those who have worked, and those who are still working to make our country a little better. Sometimes it feels like one step forward and two steps back, but that doesn’t cheapen the effort that was put in to make that one step forward happen. If you can’t celebrate our country, then celebrate those people, no matter how few they may seem to you, who truly want to help and make a positive difference for the people of this country.
Celebrating Our Successes on the 4th of July
There have been a lot of mistakes made since our country declared independence in 1776. A lot. But there have been a lot of successes, too. A few things I deem to be a success include the Emancipation Proclamation followed by the 13th Amendment that lead to the abolishment of slavery, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that overcame legal barriers that prevented African Americans from voting, and the 19th Amendment that legally guaranteed women the right to vote. These all moved our nation forward in a positive way, and those are just some federal examples!
There are many other successes that haven’t been made into permanent national documents, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t happened. You know those (few) news outlets that share good news? That’s a success. You know those online videos that capture people doing good? That’s success. Anything that makes us better as human beings can, and should, be celebrated. If you can’t celebrate our country, celebrate the good things that have happened, the times when people have been able to come together to make a things a little better.
Opportunity to Come Together
Independence Day can still be special, because it’s another excuse to come together. As a family, as friends, as neighbors, as a community, or whatever group it may be. In a world, and currently a country, that seems quite divisive, shouldn’t any excuse to come together be jumped at? I’ve heard the United States referred to as a “melting pot,” meaning it’s not just one race or one religion or one nationality or one culture, but a mix of a lot of them.
Isn’t that incredible?
There’s so much diviversity in one country, and yet we all have the same ground beneath our feet. If you don’t want to celebrate, then so be it. This article certainly won’t convince you. But if there’s the tiniest bit of a desire to celebrate something on the 4th of July, then celebrate that – the fact that we’re all on solid ground. That we are living and breathing in a beautifully diverse country.
It’s not perfect. I will never say that it is. But perfection does not equal beauty. In fact, imperfection shows that we have so much still to do, to look forward to. Let’s celebrate that. The potential we have tomorrow to be a little better than we were today.
Hope for the Future
To end, there’s one last thing I think we should all be celebrating. Hope for the future. Is the path rocky? Yes. Can that be frightening? Absolutely. I get anxious just thinking about all the things that I feel our country needs to improve on and change – because it’s a lot. But that doesn’t mean it’s all bad. There’s some good, and I want to look for that. I want to highlight it, celebrate it, remember it, and replicate it.
There are reasons to despair all around us. There are reasons to be angry and hurt and frightened. But there are also many opportunities to be grateful and helpful and kind. If you choose to focus on one of these reasons, I hope you focus on one of the latter. That doesn’t mean ignore the others – but don’t let them debilitate you and make you forget.
The way our government is set up lets us research, and rally, and speak, and write. Change can and does happen. It takes a lot of time, yes. But if you feel like you can’t celebrate the country we’re in now, celebrate the country that it can be. Then, stop reading this and get up and do something about it.