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Independence Day

Independence Day

Happy Fourth of July. The oldest parade in its honor in the country is in Bristol, about 30 minutes from my home. People start claiming places on the curbs about 5:30 am.

A great many people think this holiday is in commemoration of our defeat of the British. It’s not. It signifies the ratification of the US Constitution by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The Revolutionary War ended (for all practical purposes) on September 3, 1783 with the Treaty of Paris. For those of you who are young and weren’t taught by the schools to do math in your heads, that’s about seven years later, which means we were pretty cocky. (The Battle of Yorktown effectively ended military matters and that concluded October 18, 1781.)

This is a secular holiday, of course, although I’m sure there will be people protesting it for any variety of reasons. But that was the point of the Revolution: Freedom of Speech, of the Press, of Assembly, and of Religion, which Franklin Roosevelt empathically reminded us about 160 years later. Today we are the greatest experiment in democracy that the world has seen, with leadership elections every four years hence, through war and peace, boom and bust, for what is now nearly a quarter of a millennium later.

We are a flawed people. We have made grievous and egregious mistakes in our external and internal affairs. We’ve had some poor leadership, some cheating, supported inequities, and have not always been ethically guided.

However, we talk about it, we encourage protest and then protest when such protests are disturbed. We fight for rights for prisoners, for the disadvantaged, for animals. When our institutions are mocked and even allies critique us, we launch no jihads. We suffer from excess in immigration and regulation in order to try to be fair and bend over backwards doing so.

We are flawed but we are also exceptional. We have shed blood to preserve freedom and liberty in the world. We have shared mightily with others, rebuilding former enemies instead of exacting retribution. We’ve reached the moon and are looking at the stars.

Yes, we’re often excessive. Who we’ve erred we attempt to correct and learn the lesson. But this country has shared its good fortune, has shared its basic values, and has struggled to correct inconsistencies in applying them.

The Fourth of July represents our liberty through our separation from the British, who have now become our closest ally.

You don’t have to thank God for residing in this country, one of our freedoms is not to have to conform to any religious belief. I do, however.

And all of us, on this holiday, here in this country, ought to be thankful.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

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