On the 4th of July

Another 4th of July is upon us. Ostensibly we celebrate Freedom these days when we really mean Independence. Freedom and independence are used interchangeably, but they have very different meanings when you look at it.

We declared our Independence from the British Empire, the Crown. We declared and demanded the right to determine our own destiny as a country. To make our own mistakes, forge our own success – without some out of touch and relatively uncaring government telling us what we had to do instead. We won that Independence through blood, guts, and state craft. We defended it with guns and lives.

And there was Freedom to be had, too. As long as you were a white, Protestant male. It would be a long time coming before women and people of color were allowed the same freedoms gained in our Independence. A longer time, still, before they could exercise them equally. In fact, we’re still working on that one today.  Freedom is fought for and defended daily, and sadly, it is mostly fought by, and against, ourselves. It’s the protesters raising hell. It’s the teachers discussing true history and showing students the value and responsibilities of citizenship and civil disobedience. It’s our People telling their government and fellow citizens enough is enough.  It’s men and women participating in our Republic.  Every.  Single.  Day. And through it all, we still have our citizens who will defend our Independence and our Freedom with their lives, if necessary.

So, Happy 4th of July! It’s messy, confusing and a crazy work in progress of a country, but it’s ours.

By Dan Granot

I chose the Shorter Whitman because of his work, "Song of Myself" and because of my self-deprecating sense of humor. I am under no illusion that I can write successful essays or poetry, but I have been known to write them anyway.

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