Happy 4th of July – Essay From Years Past
July 4, 2010
It is the 4th of July and I hope everyone is having a wonderful day of food and drinks and friends and family and relaxation and sun and laughter and greasy cheeseburgers and coconut rum and bikinis and fireworks and bandoleers of bullets and whatever else brings you peace on this day and other days. Instead of writing a new essay to celebrate this day, I would like to repost an essay that Dawgz wrote a couple years ago for this exact occasion on our previous website What Gloom. So Happy 4th.
July 3rd – New York City
Tomorrow, as newly pressed American flags gently wave in the warm summer breeze throughout our nations backyards and parks, our citizens will celebrate their own definition of independence with barbecue’s, fire works, and domestic beer consumption. The anniversary of the “Great American Experiment,” a title often assigned to the democratic history of the United States, provides us all with the opportunity to collectively remember that our identity extends beyond the narrow confinements of the self and reminds us that our lives are fundamentally a by-product of the circumstances provided by the nation we call our own. We may be products of Irish, African, Italian, or Asian genetic history, but these primordial differences do not define our populace because we are uniquely bound to the country that has provided us with our understanding of the world, the mores which we profess to believe, and the context and circumstances which have allowed us to create, shape and realize our own identities through our own pursuits of happiness.
It is in these secular holidays, which we have far too few of, that we define American culture and transform this ad-hoc melting pot comprised of divergent immigrant groups into a nation with its own unique ideals, history and values. It is the enlightened ideas about the rights of humanity enshrined in the Declaration of Independence that we truly celebrate every year- ideas that reoriented the relationship between government and its citizens- ideas that fundamentally changed the course of history- ideas that we habitually attempt to celebrate through the holidays and traditions associated with the 4th of July.
America’s exceptionalism has always been based on the unwavering defense of basic principles, principles that provide egalitarian protections for every person regardless of who they are or where they came from. The genius of this country is the fact that America provided a blank slate for men to throw off the chains of hierarchy and lineage perpetuated by ancient societies and instead provided these men a platform to manifest their own destiny through the providence of their own ability. There have been open and blatant contradictions of this principle from the inception of this union, but the experiment of American democracy is often at its best when we engage in self-correcting these flaws as we participate in the unending attempt to perfect this union through an evolving understanding of how dignity and rights apply to our moment in history. In many ways this is why we memorialize the birth of our nation, we are renewing the tenets of the founders in anticipation of applying these ideals to our own epoch. That is why on every July 4th we are not just celebrating a static moment that took place 232 years ago, but instead we are celebrating the annual renewal of American principles, we are celebrating the fundamental assumption that lays at the cornerstone of American thought -the bold and revolutionary notion that things as they are, are not necessarily how they should be and we have the potential to change our institutions because power is derived from the will of men not the will of rulers.
Thus even in moments like now, when so much that had defined American principles for generations has been undermined by an administration that has left us with existential questions regarding the role of America in the globalized future, it is essential to look back and reaffirm all that is right with America and renew our faith in the truly enduring power of some simple ideas based on equality, ideas that have endured and evolved because they are right and just.
So tomorrow, my friends, drink American and wave the flag proudly and never underestimate the communal healing that can be accomplished through these moments of national unity based on principles that define us more than any ancestral lineage or tribal identification, because these are the principles that define us as Americans -these are the principles that must be reclaimed and reinforced.
Kyle C. Bruno (Brew Dawgz)