Happy 236th, America!
Today, I encourage you to celebrate America by remembering where we come from, how far we’ve come and to envision where we are going.
It’s important to remember that when Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and all the Founders convened in the summer of 1776, they were not made of marble. Today, our great leaders from the past are set in stone and it’s important that we remember them. But it is infinitely more important that we remember that they were real, living, breathing people who could bleed from a paper cut as we do, who were faced with monumental challenges. They rose to the occasion without knowing what would happen tomorrow. Thomas Jefferson did not know what would happen on July 5th when he signed the Declaration of Independence.
Following Jefferson’s example, each generation has featured courageous Americans who fought the status quo tooth and nail. Many of them bled and died for their cause, and many of them didn’t live to see the results. But by fighting, they spent their moment making America a better place for the next generation.
America began as a land for wealthy white Anglo-Saxon Protestant men. Today, we believe that all men regardless of color or origin, and all men and all women are created equal. Pioneers didn’t just head West across America’s geography, they struck new ground in America’s quest to form a more perfect union.
Today we are witnessing a mixed bag in the ongoing battle to make America a freer, fairer country. While gay rights activists have scored important victories in making acceptance mainstream, we have recently witnessed attacks on women’s rights, minority voting rights, immigrant rights, attacks on our rights to education and healthcare and attacks on the middle class, the working class and unions.
Remember the Founders today. Upon signing the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin said, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” He did not know what the future would bring, and clearly, he worried that he might be killed for his pursuit of national independence. We do not know the future either. But we do know that the genius of the American nation is progress which comes from a willingness to stir up old ideas into something new, to implement new ideas, a deep desire to be on the right side of history, and to expand liberty and justice for all. Just as our ancestors fought to expand America’s promise for us, we owe it to future generations to fight with hellbent purpose to preserve and expand American opportunity. No matter what setbacks we may face, if we continue to fight for what we know to be right, we will at the very least force the armies of the status quo to negotiate, and when we do, the righteousness of our cause will become plain. In the end, we will prevail, because in the end, as Americans
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.