I do not celebrate the 4th of July because of the might and majesty of the United States of America. I celebrate the Idea that men and women should govern themselves and the Law should originate from the People it serves. This was the founding ideas that lead to this great country.
There are some who criticize the United States; they point to the horrors that have occurred under our banner. And horrors abound: Slavery, Racism, Oppression, Internment Camps, Indian Affairs and Reservations, Veteran’s Hospitals, IRS scandals, corrupt, self-serving members of Congress and Senate. But for every horror and scandal there is a plethora of greatness.
America freed her slaves and fought the bloodiest war she has ever fought for over it.
America confronted racism; as a child I watched it systematically wiped out. We do not school, hire or limit anyone based on race. Does it still exist? Yes, but not as an institution. Nothing demonstrates this more than the fact that we elected a black president, not once but twice.
The multilayered court system assures that oppression of a local government cannot remain for long. State and Federal courts routinely override local courts where favoritism or bias occurs.
I live in Utah where you can still go see Camp Topaz where US Citizens were detained because of their Japanese ancestry. Yet, many of these same Americans volunteered for service in Europe, others used language skills to serve this country while still considered second class. They rose above oppression even while in it. Approximately 6,000 young people of Japanese descent were involved with Military Intelligence during World War II.
The Navajo Code talkers of WWII are another great example of service to a country from a people who had been oppressed by that same country.
Today the Ute Indian Reservation faces extinction, not from outside pressure or military might, but from alcohol, suicide, depression. They plight they face is mirrored in other reservations. Yet, I see the flag flying boldly at Native sights. Some of the most patriotic people I’ve ever met I met were Native Americans who spoke our youth about scouting values.
Everywhere you look today you will see veterans, some with missing limbs, clearly wounded in service. Many carry their wounds inside. Combat changes people and not often in good ways. They need your service and your love. Before you pick up a sign and go to a protest, go to a veteran’s hospital and volunteer. Don’t waste your time criticizing the world, change it, one person at a time. You are desperately needed.
Want to fix politics, get involved. Join a party, or create your own. You think this is crazy? Think of Jefferson, Adams, Hancock and all the others, forming a political institution to challenge Great Britain. Write your Congress members and Senators. They do pay attention to these things. Give constructive ideas and not just criticism. They represent you, they should know what you think.
Do you honestly think the Affordable Care Act would have been 5,000 pages long if common people had been involved in its writing?
Do you honestly think the VA hospitals would have nine month waiting list for psychiatric treatment for suicidal veterans if common more people were volunteering to serve?
Do you really think our schools would be turning out substandard students if more parents were involved? My wife volunteered for years reading and teaching math facts to kindergarten and 4th graders. We still run into some of these people, grown now. I’m always tempted to ask them, “Quick 7 x 8?”
This country is great because of its ideas, ideas that start and end with the people. There is greatness in all of us and when we work together we are more than the sum of our parts. We build on each other. We help each other. We nurture each other. What would we do if the federal government came to a complete standstill? We would do what we normally do, help, nurture and build a local organization to pick up and carry on.
This nation has used its power unlike any other in history. We did not seek to create an empire, but we build one, fighting five major wars in the 20th century, but it what we did after victory is what changed the world. The rebuilding of our former foes reshaped the globe and set countless countries on the path to democratic reforms. The 20th Century will be called The American Century in history books to come. We are not just the strongest nation the world has ever seen, we are the most generous. Be one of the generous, give of your time and substance to others in need.
Yes, I will celebrate the United States of America. I will salute the flag. I will respect veterans and police officers and even politicians for the service they give that I may be free. I will salute and stand for all of these things, even while I strive to reform and correct the errors and atrocities that have and still exist. We do not live in a perfect country, but we do live in the best country on earth. And you and I can and should be working to make this country better.