There are few countries that actually celebrate their founding. Canada Day passed with barely a whimper "up north." If you go to the UK and ask what they celebrate you are looked at with confusion. Most of Europe and Asia are the same. Their major celebration is New Year’s Day. Communists celebrate May Day with rockets and armies. But we here in the US are unique, I think.
We celebrate our country’s birthday with a day off, picnics and barbeque’s, ball games and fun. But we also have formal celebrations — there are over 100 events in the LA area alone with parades, festivals, speeches and the like. There are few cities and towns across the country that don’t have some kind of event, most ending with fireworks depicting the bombardment of Ft McHenry in Baltimore and Francis Scott Key’s famous words that afterwards "our flag was still there." There are few families that won’t do something "special" on this day. Most having to do with food, family, friends and being outside.
Yes, we are a strange people. We sing our national anthem at ball games, concerts, and graduations. We are criticized for putting out the flag and red white and blue bunting on President’s day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day. Yet we do it. Year after year.
Symbols are important. Our celebration is a symbol. As is the flag. They symbolize the sacrifice that many have made to give us the freedom to criticize the very symbols of that sacrifice. That, of course, is the irony. Those who would hide the flags and stop the celebrations would be jailed for simply saying those words in at least a quarter of the world.
This place is unique. Nothing like it anywhere. America is growing, mostly by immigration, from Europe, Asia and Latin America. Why? Because this is a country of freedom, opportunity, and acceptance. We have fought wars against oppression, slavery, and terror. And we have won. And we will win again. No doubt. Its in our soul, in our genes. Americans are slow to anger, take a bit too long sometimes to get to the game. But when we are there, we prevail, sometimes in spite of ourselves.
Sure we make mistakes, but we own up to them, make amends, and press on. We’re human. We are accused of being imperialists, but we have not ruled in any country we have fought. We returned the following countries (not a complete list) to their people: Japan, Korea, Germany, Italy, the Philippines, Panama, Mexico, Liberia, Most of North Africa, the list is endless. In no case did we "conquer" and then keep the land and rule the people. We worked as fast as we could to return their countries.
The reason? Because we believe in freedom, not just ours, but everyone’s. Jefferson wrote: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal. endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. Life,. Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." Take a moment to read the entire text here
This is a great country. Better, in fact, than most. Bet on it. Be proud of it. It’s yours.
Happy Birthday, America. Many many returns…