The birth of a child is something so wonderful that we celebrate the event every year of his life, and with each year the miracle of his birth is more and more obscured by the progress of his life. Who but the mother would visit a grown man’s birthday party carrying images of the guest of honor in diapers? If anything, we tend to focus more on the growing crop of furrows that mark his expanding snow capped forehead, ingratiating ourselves with flattering inanities like; “He looks pretty good for his age, The best years are still ahead, or, He’s still young at heart.” The birth is never the star of the birthday.
What is true for the man, is true for his country, as well. You can disregard the Fife and Drum Hallmark cards, Old Glory banners and three-cornered hats; they are token homages to the birth of our nation. What’s on the minds of the modern patriots on Independence Day is the glory and grandeur of these mighty United States of America; the biggest, best, most powerful nation on earth – USA No. 1. The disaffected cynics and G20 protesters are no less myopic in their raging against the avaricious global over-reach of monopolistic, corporate America.
The birth of our nation really has nothing to do with the deeds or misdeeds of the full grown USA. What do President Obama, General Petraeus, Goldman-Sachs, Steve Jobs, Rand Paul, Glenn Beck and Beyonce all have in common? They were all born centuries after the birth of our nation and are therefore irrelevant nonentities in the scenario of America’s day of birth.
The American soldier is another often seen nonentity in this scenario. Our fighting men and women are the servants of modern America. They risk their lives for the benefit of America’s power and progress but, in spite of the well nourished myth, no longer for her freedom. The last Americans to give their lives for our nation’s freedom were the 2,260 who died in the War of 1812. All those who died in the many wars since gave their lives for their country, but not for freedom, with the notable exception of the black soldiers who served and died in the Civil War to guarantee freedom for their race. Anyway, we have two other holidays to celebrate the honor of our fighting forces, The 4th is not about them.
Freedom, that’s what Independence Day is all about; the simple idea that all men are created equal with the right to govern themselves under a system of equal opportunity for all (original exceptions amended). The virtue of infant America was not its power, its wealth, or its armies – it was its faith in man’s ability to define his own destiny.
Looking at debt ridden, war weary, middle-aged America, it is hard to muster much enthusiasm for celebration, but by focusing on the miracle and the promise of her birth, I can be proud, jubilant and even hopeful.
Happy birthday America!