When we celebrate Independence Day we celebrate our good fortune to enjoy a multitude of freedoms and opportunities of the United States of America at great cost. Two hundred and thirty-eight years ago some very brave people declared their independence from the British Empire and many gave their lives in order that succeeding generations could determine their own destiny, speak their minds, and prosper from their ingenuity and hard work.
The application of the ideals embodied in the Declaration of Independence has been a work in progress for 238 years as we have only gradually risen above the tyranny of slavery, landed aristocracy, and the oppression of women, minorities, new immigrants, and native Americans. As a nation we have had our major blind spots, and fought a terrible civil war that eliminated sanctioned slavery, and began the process of tearing down racism. This process is continuing today, as the melting pot we call America becomes an even more complex mix as people throughout the globe have become more mobile, and immigrants flee tyranny and their homelands.
While we enjoy so many freedoms here, we would do well to remember that with great freedom comes great responsibility, and sometimes great sacrifice. Throughout our history soldiers of every description have fought to maintain our great experiment in Democracy, sacrificing life and limb. Civilians have also fought and sacrificed to help our society evolve a more clear understanding of how our cultural stereotypes, religious intolerance, racism, sexism and other forms of bigotry limit everyone’s’ freedoms. none of this came easy. When we fight for freedom by taking up arms, or by speaking up to confront oppression both at home and abroad, we pay the price of freedom.
Today, let us all celebrate the ideals of a free nation, and the sacrifices of soldiers and civilians who fight and bravely speak up to keep us free.
Earlier this week, my wife and grandson took a brief road trip together, and in their travels discovered the beautiful Veterans Memorial in Montevideo, Minnesota. This is a place of remembrance and honor evolving a deep sense of the precious nature of life, freedom and ultimate sacrifice.
May we never forget that every generation must sacrifice to maintain our freedom, and grow our evolving understanding of cultural and institutional oppression. We have come a very long way in 238 years, and our journey of growth as a society will continue as the years ahead unfold.
It’s Independence Day. Enjoy and celebrate the freedoms. Embrace the promise.
We are closed on the 4th of July. We will re-open on Saturday, July 5th!