The Fourth July and a Nation Tested

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The other night I was watching a show. The characters were complaining about all the riots, burnings of businesses, peaceful and non-peaceful protest, the government overreach, abuse of powers, and all the significant issues affecting the United States.  For several minutes the main character went on a rant about everything that is wrong with the United States.  He talked about how we treat people, the way we have expanded, our tendency for wars, and how our leaders have been corrupt.  It all struck a chord, and for a moment, I thought I was watching a news commentary from today.  A quick check of the show’s original air date indicated it aired first in the 1970s.  The program was over forty years old, but it sounded like a newscast from today.  It served as a gentle reminder that what we face today is nothing new for the United States.

The United States has always been tested.  It seems that all great nations are tested throughout their history.  From the very start, we faced tests as a small country rolling into the unclear waters of rebellion against England. We had no idea how it would turn out.  The men who met secretly and signed the Declaration of Independence knew they could be the signing their death sentences.  Many of them lost fortunes, lives, and all they had for merely signing their names to a paper that said we want to be independent.   Had they lost that war, there would be no United States, and since the winners always write history, there would be no heroes in Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and others.    These men were not perfect.  In fact, in their times, they were very far from perfect.  We must remember that had they been faultless, they would have been excellent subjects to the crown.  They would have been loyal, trusting of the King, and they certainly never would have risen in rebellion.   

From that moment forward, the United States has been tested.  We have faced foreign invasions, the issues of slavery, reconstruction, expansion at the cost of land that belonged to others, and an inequality system that often elevates the rich over the poor.  Even during the formative years, we often forget that things like the Boston Tea Party had little to do with a “party.”  The truth is their protest turned into a riot that destroyed property as tea owned by merchants was tossed into the harbor.  While we celebrate it today for the Sons of Liberty and their finest moment working as a catalyst that eventually sparked independence, it was a riot.  

Since Independence, tests continued with world wars, conflicts, financial crisis, desegregation, racism, and so many more challenges.  No, we are not perfect, and neither are the heroes who came before us.  Most American heroes were simply men and women in the right place at the right time to take a stand or action that helped propel the United States forward.

Through each test the United States has faced, we have grown and grown better from it.  Regardless of the flaws of the founding fathers, the fact is their actions secured this nation.  Tests came in the forms of horrible events toward our fellow men and beautiful moments of discovery and advancement.    Whether you like the history or not, it has been a test for the United States.  The country has risen above and grown to be better today because of the test.

Today, we face riots, burnings of businesses, peaceful and non-peaceful protests, government overreach, abuse of powers, and other significant problems.  These continue to be tests for the United States.  Remember, we are a strong group of people.  We are a group of people from different nations, ethnic backgrounds, races, religions, and views from all over the world.  We are a united people of various people. 

We, as a united people, must remember that just as we have come through many tests before, we will come through this current test together.  Any nation that no longer faces tests most likely is no longer great.   The United States, with all its flaws and shortcomings, continues to be one of the greatest nations the world has ever known.   As we celebrate the Fourth of July today, we must remember we have faced the fires of the tests before.  We will continue to meet the tests in the future, and like before; we will rise above as one United States of America. 

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