Happy Independence Day! It's a day for picnics, parades and patriotism. I am grateful to be an American and proud to be a patriot.
I am grateful for the freedom I enjoy as a result of the spilled blood of countless heroes, most of whom will never be celebrated with medals or parades. I am aware every day that my freedoms were not free, and I mean to make the most of them. I am inspired by the fact that even though as a nation we have made some mistakes, we continue to strive for the freedom and equality of all our citizens. We have a lot to be proud of . . . and a lot of work to do. This work is not the job of politicians, it is the responsibility of every citizen.
The world is changing. New powers are emerging. How will we continue our proud traditions of freedom and democracy? What is my role in this changing landscape?
Today my role is to teach my children of our nation's history to ensure it is not repeated. It is my job to fly my flag and remind my neighbors that it is indeed a land worth fighting for. It is my responsibility to protect the rights and freedoms of all whose paths cross mine. It is up to me to exercise my considerable rights so they are not lost; I will vote, I will serve on juries, I will celebrate my religious freedom. I will honor and learn about the tapestry of cultures that makes up our country and respect our differences. Perhaps most importantly, I will not take for granted that as a woman, I enjoy equal rights that many other women in the world only dream of: the right to be educated, to vote, to worship (or not) as I choose, to dress as I please, even to drive a car.
On my favorite television show, Sunday Morning, British Prime Minister Tony Blair delivered an essay on, of all things, American Independence Day. A couple of phrases stood out to me:
". . .the circumstances of independence are part of what makes America the great and proud nation it is today. And what gives nobility to the American character.
. . .It is a devotion to the American ideal that at a certain point transcends class, race, religion or upbringing.
That ideal is about values, freedom, the rule of law, democracy. "
[Click on the words "Tony Blair" to see the essay for yourself.]
I agree, Mr. Blair. That "American ideal" has created my reality. I will do my part to carry it forward.
Photo credit: Graphics Fairy
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