Independence Day 2021, as I now look back upon it, was a good one.
Of course, in my memory every Fourth is a good one, due in no small part to the fact that I have always enjoyed the summer, not to mention the fireworks, parades and other festivities associated with the holiday.
I learned the importance of July 4, 1776, when I was young. Those were the days before all the Founding Fathers were wrong and everything that happened before the year 2000 was a corrupt reflection of a sinister, oppressive agenda.
Anyway, I guess people have the freedom to say and write things that make my skin crawl due to the work of our nation’s founders; and, ironically, it is that very body of revolutionaries and philosophers who now take the brunt of the post-modern world’s hate.
Citizens have the freedom to spew hateful words about Thomas Jefferson mainly because of personal freedoms demanded by…Thomas Jefferson. Think about that for a few minutes when you get the chance. Anyway, back to July 4.
I love the whole thing, really. I love the procession of vehicle and walkers, tractors and horses that comprised the parade last Saturday in Stanberry. I loved the fireworks I watched in Union Star the evening prior. I loved the concert in Albany. I couldn’t catch the fireworks in Grant City or the ‘Back to King City Night’ fun down where I live, but my sources tell me everything was a big success.
I am sure it is an idea I have expressed before, but my great disappointment with America today is not that everyone doesn’t feel the same about the Fourth of July, patriotism and the Red, White and Blue as I feel. My frustration is that we have entered a chapter in history when the concept of freedom itself has been convoluted.
Reading our history – a dangerous practice, I know, according to those who feel that written history predictably misrepresents the actual truth of times past – I have certainly seen injustice and problems. But alongside the wrong, I have seen much of the right. Those who persistently pursue their love of country seem to fare better than those who wait for the American dream to knock upon their doors, and until that time profess no love for their homeland.
What about President Kennedy’s challenge: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country’ in his inaugural address? And we too often forget (or perhaps, in some cases, never know) the next portion of the speech: ‘My fellow citizens of the world; ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.’
Is it un-American for a leader to call the citizens to work, rather than to the table? Wouldn’t it be more exciting, more productive and certainly more positive if, instead of bickering over who is getting the better inheritance here in America, we would work together as individual heirs of freedom to improve our position in the world heading toward the future?
That cannot be an effort made by this ethnic group or that one. It is not the duty of one state, or one region, or one political party. It’s a wall-to-wall determination that would fulfill the needs and expectations of every true American: that we equally choose to love and serve our nation and its greater good, and that in turn we each equally bring home the opportunities that the constitution promises.
Everybody gives. Everybody receives.
Everybody cares. Everybody is heard.
It’s that simple, which means, of course, that it is impossible. My country is dear to me, but her people are generally not interested in simple solutions, preferring instead to let Washington determine our collective destiny by means of complicated policies. And the more complex policy we enact, the more people feel disenfranchised and ignored. I wonder when we’ll learn.
Matt Pearl owns and operates newspapers in King City, Albany and Grant City.