Celebrating Independence Day Differently


Celebrating Independence Day Differently

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Celebrating Independence Day Differently

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This was certainly a different Fourth of July than any other in our lifetimes.  Our current macro situations challenge the traditional thinking around Independence Day and the principles upon which our country was founded. Quite obviously, Independence Day is the impetus for the founding of our country and the roots of our democracy, instantiated in the notion that all people are created equal.

For me, this Independence Day had more meaning than others in the past. While we did have a small outdoor cookout with family and some friends, watching a neighbor’s fireworks alone with my 8-year old son led me to reflect more on what our country’s ideals mean in today’s turbulent times. In one sense, I was uplifted in donning the red, white, and blue to celebrate the unifying symbols of our country, and the inclusiveness of being with family and friends after such a long period of distancing felt refreshing. My Irish and Polish ancestors fled the poverty and famine of their home countries for the promise that is America, and I will always be grateful for their sacrifices, as they led to my own opportunities.

But I also struggle with many of the paradoxes that exist between key tenets put forth in the Declaration of Independence, and later our Constitution, versus how those have played out in over the course of history. While I firmly believe that our system of government is best suited to progress and evolve over time to realize our inherent equality, it is clear that there are communities within America that continue to be marginalized and whose rights are not protected. While Independence Day makes me hopeful for the future and our ability to progress as a society, I realize not everyone sees this holiday, and possibly the tenets of our governing system, the same way.

As we move forward, I hope that we can collectively find ways to recognize and celebrate the elements of our independence, along with the progress we have made from our country’s founding. We are far from perfect and have committed many wrongs to our society. But we have accomplished so much since the birth of our country. And we have not just the opportunity, but also the responsibility, to apply our inalienable rights to continue to correct wrongs and progress as a nation made up a true melting pot of people and cultures. We should speak out, assemble, protest, and serve each other as established in our Constitution and Bill of Rights, but also look back to make sure that we don’t make the mistakes of our past.

Tom Lapato, Vice President