Toby Keith doesn’t blare from my speakers that often (read: never), and I definitely had that phase in high school and college devoted to focusing on America’s faults. But today, of all days, I’ll say it: America is pretty awesome. And free. And it’s not because we’re back-to-back World War champs. Nor is it because of the three persons to our American Trinity: Super Bowls, McDonald’s, and freedom.
We do well to remember that these hallmarks are not precisely our own, and pretending otherwise would be arrogant. Hell, ancient Rome provided us the template for freedom, large-scale sporting events, and fast food. So on this Fourth of July, how do we be grateful and acknowledge all these great gifts?
For me at least, I’m looking to those whose actions make these gifts possible. I’m grateful for our Founding Fathers, those deeply flawed men who slept around and duelled and held grudges with each other. Even with that baggage, they laid the groundwork for an enduring democratically elected republic that has been relatively stable for 237 years. America never had the revolutionary drama of a Napoleon, or a Stalin, or a Hitler, or a Mao, or even a Berlusconi. We’ve done pretty well – all things considering – and it is largely because of the example of the great leaders who peacefully handed power over to successors and who asked for help from other countries…including the French.
Below is Lou Gehrig’s famous speech where he declared himself – on July 4, 1939 – to be the “luckiest man on the face of the earth.” Amen to that, Lou. Happy Independence Day, everyone!
For dessert, Independence Day bonus material! Here’s Elton John’s ode to ‘Murica’s birthplace – Philadelphia!
“Independence Day 2” is going to be a reality. To keep you pumped this four-day weekend, I prescribe watching Bill Pullman’s speech three times per day.
I understand if you do not want to watch this video starring the future Mr. Feeny, but please abstain courteously…
Cover photo of Fireworks by bayasaa via Flickr.