For the last few years, I have prayed for my country on her birthday. I have prayed for unity among all her people, for goodness to enter the hearts of our leaders, and for wisdom and understanding to bring us all together. At least for one day. And I am doing that again today. July 4th, 2020.
But I am also honoring her. By remembering just exactly how monumental July 4th, 1776 is in the pages of history. On that day, a nation of farmers, sailors, merchants, pirates, and smugglers, all rose up as one in opposition to the British Crown. The 55 men who signed the Declaration of Independence knew they were no longer representing their home colonies. They were no longer from Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
They were from a new nation. One that rose above the status quo of monarchy. One that shattered the chains of a tyrannical government. This new nation was one where the people could choose their own system of government without a king keeping them under his thumb. This new nation was the grand experiment of its time! John Adams, played by Paul Giamatti, explains this far more clearly than I ever could. He gives one of the most moving, emotional, and patriotic speeches I have ever seen. I would be lying if I said it didn’t cause a lump in my throat, or tears to form in the corners of my eyes!
John Adams explains just how revolutionary America was at the moment of her birth. Nowhere in recorded history up to that point, had the people of any nation been as free to govern themselves, as our forefathers were. Our nation was born unique. An anomaly. A nation of the people, born in an era of kings. Monarchs were everywhere. But this was the first time a set of colonies under a king or queen anywhere in the world, won their right to independence!
In light of recent events, I have come to view America differently, though I still love her just the same. I am still a proud Patriot, and always will be. But I now view the “ideal America” as unattainable. A standard which we cannot reach, but one that we should try our absolute best to get to. When they defeated the British in the war for our Independence, our Founding Fathers earned the right to set their own standard, which they outlined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. And they challenge us to meet that standard. The ghosts of George Washington, John Adams, Ben Franklin, Sam Adams and others challenge us all. Each and every day.
I love this nation with every fiber of my being. In spite of all her imperfections, and stumbles throughout history, I love America with all my heart. At her absolute best, she is a nation governed by the ideals of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness for ALL people. Regardless of their station in life, skin color, sexual orientation, or anything else. America is also a nation in which government should play a minimal role. It should only be there to preserve law and order, make sure our elected officials are serving us, and to protect our fundamental rights. Are these things currently happening? No. Most certainly not.
Our government is corrupted and has been for decades. It has overstepped its bounds in ways too numerous to count. Our elected officials care more about their next election campaign than they do about the people in their care who suffer, and who need their help. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are being taken away from our fellow Americans by cops who are poorly trained, or by people who have no business being cops at all. And there is a mob within this country seeking to tear America apart from the inside by destroying some of the very things that make us great: Our national symbols, our history, and our freedom of speech. We certainly are not living up to the ideals that our Founding Fathers have set for us. We are not living up to the ideals which so many have fought, bled and died for.
But in the midst of all this darkness. I still have hope. Hope that the battle for the soul of this nation, will be won decisively by Patriots who understand what George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Sam Adams, and others set out to do on this day 244 years ago. Those men set out to earn full freedom for themselves and all their countrymen. Forgive the use of another video, but this seems to explain things really well. And Ben Barnes gives me chills as Sam Adams!
Yes, I understand that not all people were freed with our ancestors’ victory over the British. Slavery existed until 1865, almost a century afterward. And in addition to that, there were many bumps in the road that needed to be overcome with the Civil Rights movement. Some of those obstacles still haunt our society today.
And yet, for as much as we struggle and fail, I still have hope that we will one day be closer to the dream of the “idealized America” that was given to us on this day in 1776. But it’s up to us, the people, to realize what that dream is. More people should familiarize themselves with, and read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. And they should familiarize themselves with who the Founding Fathers were as men. Like I see George Washington as an extremely intelligent, humble, very strong leader. I see Benjamin Franklin as an intelligent, funny, quirky, man who helped convince France to join us in our war for Independence. I see Sam Adams and Thomas Paine as masters of propaganda. They got the people worked up enough to act. Both of them fueled the fires of Independence. Not to mention Sam Adams’ underground group, the Sons of Liberty, rallied the people against the Crown. And his cousin, John Adams is probably my favorite Founding Father, for his ability to be both intensely passionate about Independence but still believe in justice for ALL people he came across. Even those he strongly disagreed with. John Adams believed in equality for all, and the rule of law and justice, rather than anarchy and mob rule. I admire John Adams greatly.
So how do we get closer to the ideal America? We move closer to the ideal America for all by recognizing that yes, she is imperfect. Yes, she has had some ugly moments in her history and made plenty of mistakes. But we also realize it is still possible for us to obtain Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness for all. We just have to fight for it. Our Founding Fathers had their war. A war to make America independent. Now we have our war to fight, even though it isn’t a physical one: A war to make her a country all true Americans can be proud of!
I end this post with one of my favorite patriotic songs. Spoken by the Man in Black himself, Johnny Cash. Let the words reach you in whatever way they do. I know I’m always choked up or crying by the end of it. God bless you all. God bless our Founding Fathers. And God Bless the United States of America! Happy Fourth of July everybody!