The one thing I want my children to understand about the 4th of July extends beyond hot dogs, fireworks or pleated American flags. These things have their place.
But, as we push beyond the rudimentary for something more lasting we see that so much of what it means to be an American is under constant attack. Much of what we grew up being taught about the greatness of America or how proud we should be to be an American is now considered hate speech in many circles.
Lady Liberty, with broken chains at her feet, has become a cliché as she is being redefined and upended on every turn. So this 4th of July, I want to reclaim a little of what I was taught as a young girl and to pass it on to the next generation.
The one thing I want my children to know about July 4th is that the promissory note America issued to all of her inhabitants is not bankrupt. The promises that “black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the ‘unalienable Rights’ of ‘Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,’” still stands.
Despite media headlines, America is not insolvent. Nor, did she default on her many promises. "From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome…give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…Send these the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.” We remain the land of the free and the home of the brave.
As a veteran, I resolved within myself that if I was called to lay down my life to protect the interests of this great country I would readily do so.
Embedded in the Declaration of Independence was the genesis of our Constitution and from the Constitution a nation was born – the greatest experiment in human history. Rooted in it was the key to unlocking the chains of slavery, opening the door to women’s suffrage, toppling segregation, and guaranteeing equal employment and housing for all.
Yet, America’s promises cannot extend beyond her laws. America’s opportunities cannot outstretch her reasoned decrees. America’s freedoms cannot transcend the Constitution and still remain safe, whole, prosperous and sustainable.
America’s laws defines just how far her grace can extend to the weary. Our personal opinions or biased emotions should not be the litmus test we use to discern what is and is not acceptable.
The laws of America are the perimeter or fence surrounding our freedoms and our opportunities. We can only be so generous up to our laws. We can only be so sympathetic up to the borders of our laws. We can only be so welcoming up to the margins of our laws. If we continue to breach the walls of our defenses it will soon become incompetent in its duties to protect us at all.
As the Constitution does not exist apart from our Founders’ initial stance in declaring their independence from Britain, America does not exist apart from the Constitution.
As a veteran, I resolved within myself that if I was called to lay down my life to protect the interests of this great country I would readily do so. We have an obligation to protect what we consider our most valuable assets. For me, God, family and country remains at the top of my list and in that order.