I am an American. I am a Patriot. I celebrate Independence Day on the 4th of July.
By far, the majority of Americans will be celebrating the independence of the United States as well. Even with our many differences on political, social and religious issues, most people living in America are here because they want to be and are grateful for the freedoms that America provides not only for those living within her borders but for many people in other countries who the United States has liberated or protected.
There is a minority of Americans, however, who won’t be celebrating today. These are people who seem to take offense at what America is and stands for on behalf of other people who apparently are too ignorant to be offended on their own. They insist that to be proud of being American, to celebrate our country’s independence and birth, is a slap in the face of people living in the U.S. from other countries. They suggest that being proud of our country and its ideals, to proclaim the United States as one of the greatest countries on earth, demeans non-Americans and rejects the goodness of other countries.
I’m not suggesting that the United States is perfect and can’t be improved upon but there is much appeal in the rights and freedoms that it provides those living within its borders or else why do so many want to immigrate here? Why don’t more people leave (even when they promise they will if certain candidates are elected President)? With all its faults, America is a great country, a great place to live, and a favorite destination of many people who live in oppressive, dictatorial or non-democratic countries. We celebrate the goodness of the United States when we celebrate our independence.
There are other reasons that small groups of Americans refuse to celebrate on this day, or downplay its importance. Some of the reasons they give have some validity but none are sufficient to support a rejection of a celebration over 240 years a tradition, in a country that has overcome so much in its history and provides so much for people around the world. Space and time prevent me from expounding on each of them here, so let me simply provide a list (in no particular order) of what I, and the majority of Americans, are not declaring as we celebrate the 4th of July:
1. In my celebrating, I am not affirming my allegiance to my country as being above my allegiance to God and His Kingdom. I am first a citizen of the Kingdom of God and committed to Him above all else.
2. As I celebrate, I am not demeaning people from other countries who now live in the United States. Our “melting pot” is what has made America what it is and invite people from all nations who now live in the U.S. to celebrate our freedoms with us.
3. I am not celebrating what is wrong with the United States. As already stated, the U.S. isn’t perfect but we can still celebrate what is good about her.
4. As I celebrate our independence from Great Britain, I am not celebrating rebellion, revolution or violent uprising. It’s easy to criticize our Founding Fathers by looking at their situation through our pious 21st century glasses but they saw winning independence from GB as a moral imperative worthy of putting at risk their reputations, fortunes and lives so I celebrate their willingness and sacrifice.
5. As I celebrate this 4th of July, I am not ignoring the plight of the poor or marginalized who live here. We should continue to provide justice for all and seek to ensure that all our inhabitants experience the rights and freedoms we celebrate on this day.
6. Celebrating our independence is not telling the other nations of the world that they don’t matter. Travel to other countries and you’ll see that most (if not all-I haven’t been to all) celebrate their independence and existence in similar ways. Celebrating the United States does not take away from the greatness of other countries where it exists.
7. Celebrating on the 4th of July is not an affirmation of our current Administration and all of its policies, it is simply a celebration of our independence as a country.
8. Celebrating Independence Day is not a celebration of militarism and warfare, it’s a celebration of freedom and independence.
9. My celebration of our independence as a country originally guided by Judeo-Christian principles is not a denial of the existence or rights of other faith groups. One of the freedoms we celebrate is the freedom to live and worship according to the dictates of our conscience. This is one of the things that makes the U.S. such an appealing country to come to, one of the things we celebrate.
10. As I celebrate on this day, I’m not suggesting that God blesses the United States to the exclusion of other countries. I believe that God has had a role in the development and growth of the U.S. to enable us to bless others (as He also did in biblical history) but we are certainly not the only country that God blesses and uses.
11. Finally, as I celebrate the 4th of July, Independence Day, I am not declaring that your opinion, values and priorities don’t matter. They matter as much as mine and everyone else’s living in these United States. Our freedom to have -and voice- our opinions is one of the things that makes our country great and one of the reasons we celebrate today.
I doubt that this post has changed everybody’s (or anybody’s) mind on celebrating this 4th of July, but hopefully it will enable most of us set aside our differences, to celebrate together the independence of the United States which has enabled us to grow into a country that cares for its citizens and aids citizens of other countries who need her. Hopefully, at least this one day, we can come together around what is good about our country and rejoice in what we have in common.
Happy 4th of July!
Flag with fireworks: https://www.techavy.com/4th-of-july-quotes-images-fireworks/
Signing of Declaration of Independence: Public Domain