What does the 4th of July really mean?

Happy Family Standing On The Hill And Watching The Fireworks

happy family standing on the hill and watching the fireworks

Happy 4th of July! The 1st of July is the 182nd day of the year. As you watch the fireworks tonight, consider that today is now the 185th day of the year. This probably will make little or no difference to your enjoyment of the display you go to see.  Each year, the fireworks displays seem to be longer and more spectacular.  The loud explosions, dazzling sparkles and bright flashes of color contrasting with the grey smoke really bring home to me the vision that drove Francis Scott Key to write the “Star Spangled Banner.”

O! Say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

The American Flag, the 4th of July, the Declaration of Independence and the “Bombs” too many of our soldiers have seen are more than just images of a unique US Brand.  They are more than just symbols of our heritage. They are down payments on a legacy that is part of our fundamental American dream.  Our Forefathers created a system of government that was based on the belief that all men (and eventually this included women and African Americans) were entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  This was the most positive, uplifting and life affirming message the world had ever known.  It became the great American experiment.  The only other country to ever come close to America in creating an entirely new life affirming belief system for its citizens was Greece.  The Greek experiment failed to continue but its message helped to form a foundation for every other experiment in democracy the world over.

There are those who argue that the “ascendancy” of the American experiment is over.  It is opined that just like Rome, France, Great Britain and many other empires, America is on the downside of its greatness.  China, India, Japan and Brazil are noted as possible successors. Perhaps from a military or economic view this will be true.  But taken from the perspective of the belief system that under-girds America, there are no countries that are even close.  We do not always practice what we preach.  Moreover, in many areas of life, we seem to have lost our way.  Our politicians are often guided more by party politics than by what is good for the American people or the world.  Today our nation seems fractured into two countries.  One is red.  The other is blue.  It is questionable whether they can ever be reunited into a common nation.

As you enjoy your barbecue, your picnics and your fireworks today, rest assured, the core of the American experiment, the dream and ideals that has brought and continues to bring millions of immigrants to the shores of America will ring forever through the halls of history.  The world will never forget that someday and in some place called America, there was once a people who lived, worked, fought and died for the belief that “we”, the people, including the rich, the poor and all minorities have a set of inalienable rights.  These American values have become values the world over.  It matters little whether the USA is still true to them.  Democracy may be under siege in many nations but there are still millions of people who live under a democracy today and millions more who yearn for the Democratic values espoused by our Founding Fathers.

America became a great nation because we once practiced and believed in this message for all people.  We remain a nation that is great in spirit and great in heart though many of us appear to have lost our way.  If we can find the ability to care more about others than we do about ourselves, our nation can still be a spiritual and moral beacon to the oppressed and downtrodden of the world.  Greatness cannot be measured in economic and monetary terms.  We must measure the greatness of a people by the greatness of their vision.  By that standard, America is the greatest nation that has ever existed.  If only we can find that vision again.

Time for Questions: 

Do you believe in the American Vision?  Do you believe it is for all people, or just for Americans?  When was the last time you actually read the Declaration of Independence?  Do you know the difference between Patriotism and Jingoism?

Life is just beginning.

The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.”
James Madison

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lou Schultz
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 12:22:52

    Great article, John. You should have sent it in to local newspapers or even included it in a far-reaching press release. Keep up your writing.



  2. John Persico
    Jul 05, 2011 @ 04:29:10

    Thanks Lou, I am grateful for your comments and proud to have you read my blogs. Hope you had a great 4th of July.



  3. johnpersico
    Jul 04, 2015 @ 12:24:17

    Reblogged this on Aging Capriciously and commented:

    Happy 4th of July: I wrote this blog four years ago and it still rings true to me. I hope it will help you to think about what this day truly means.



  4. jeanine
    Jul 06, 2017 @ 07:15:06

    Great blog. I enjoyed it very much. Now in answer to your last question, I know the difference now and if Jingoist is a word also, I have a high ranking public official in mind.  Confession, I cannot remember the last time I read the Declaration of Independence, but I am going there next. I believe in the American Dream and pray that more people exercise this dream. Judging by the present day situation we have in the White House ,it would seem that the lean was more toward abandoning this dream.



    • johnpersico
      Jul 09, 2017 @ 09:24:20

      You need to see the play or movie 1776. We are going today with an all female cast. It should be fun and interesting.



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