This year, perhaps more than ever, I can’t wait for the flags flying high, for the storefronts draped in red, white and blue bunting, for the kids riding bikes with wheels threaded through with crepe paper, and little ones in strollers decorated with stars and stripes.
It is the 4th of July, one of my favorite holidays, the annual parade a childhood memory I hold dear, growing up in New Jersey, which back in 1776 at the nation’s beginnings, was at the heart of the resistance to Great Britain’s tyranny. Its battlefields, where so much Patriot blood was spilled in the ensuing war for independence, became the fondly remembered destinations for family outings, and later visits for my kids with their grandparents.
The history of that period in our nation’s not so long but glorious existence, is particularly significant this Independence Day. It reminds of the unalienable rights — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — that informed the founding of this great nation and the ongoing challenge to preserve them. It reminds of the long and arduous process of conceiving this less than perfect union and settling on those principles of government that would gird and sustain it. It reminds of the compromise and conciliation required to wrest a Constitution and secure agreement among the states — more than a decade after our Declaration of Independence was written — a cooperative process that still informs the workings of our government today as this fractious nation seeks to protect and assure those rights in an ever more complex, and dangerous, world.
And it reminds of all we have accomplished in our less than 300 years, and all that we have yet to do.
While the nation now wrestles with perhaps a less than perfect presidency, while it grapples with the vestiges of a perduring racism, with a resurgence of repugnant religious discrimination, with troubling economic disparity and a growing class divide, it remains committed to the democratic project that the Founders so wisely and bravely initiated. The nation toils on, and so do we, ever sure that the center will hold, that e pluribus unum will yet prevail.
Such is the system, so ingeniously crafted by our founders, such are the citizens of this great nation who yet refuse to give up on this endeavor. So it is on this 4th, the parades will march on, the grills will be fired up, the hot dogs and watermelons consumed, and the fireworks will light up the night sky with their dazzling display, a resounding affirmation of our Founders’ vision and the resilience of the Patriots to soldier on.
And so we will.
For that is the self-evident truth of our nation.