The American way in 36 words

We are celebrating our 246th Independence Day in 2022. Our longevity as a nation has been amazing, withstanding assaults from both within, the Civil War, and without, the two world wars. We are a nation founded on the inspiration of equality, and yet fractured by our inability to fully honor that ideal.

Consider the remarkable preamble to the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The preamble has only 36 words for a new nation that was built upon the foundation that traces its shared heritage entirely to a set of great ideals. Two hundred and 46 years later, this is something to celebrate and live by — with parades, fireworks, cookouts — just as it is something to continually march for, demand and ensure for all men and women, now and into the future.

Yes, we are facing problems and challenges. COVID-19 continues to take a sad toll with more than one million lives lost in the U.S. Inflation at a 40-year high, $5 gasoline, mass shootings, gun rights, pending Supreme Court rulings, disturbing incivility, severe political intolerance and division, discord in the past 2020 and present 2022 elections, an unprovoked foreign invasion and global impacts, the list goes on.

Yet if we will allow them to do so, there is great power to bind us together in those 36 words that everyone deserves the opportunity to make the best of themselves. It’s our independence and inherent right to say what we want to say, to think what we want to think, to believe what we want to believe, or not believe. These are the ideals that set us apart. That also unite us in a land of the free.

The Fourth of July is the perfect time to reflect on our nation’s ideals and implore Americans to not only embrace those ideals but extend and champion them.

Our great nation should not, cannot, be defined not by our many problems but by our efforts to resolve those problems. We are a great country, but we can always be better as a continuous work in progress with each generation. That is a wonderful expression, challenge and opportunity of patriotism. In some of Independence Days, the moment has been especially meaningful.

Three Founding Father Presidents - Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Monroe (1831) - died on July 4th. Jefferson and Adams died hours apart in 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. President Calvin Coolidge was
born on July 4, 1872.

Two great American icons made their debuts on July 4. In 1884, the people of France presented the Statue of Liberty to the American people in Paris. In 1960, the 50-star U.S. flag was officially unfurled.

Many of us are old enough to remember the fireworks, concerts and tall ships of the nation’s bicentennial celebration — July 4, 1976.

Traditionally, there is a special kind of nostalgia about the Fourth of July. As a youngster, it was fireworks, but as we grew older, it was a personal, family, and community celebration and awareness about birth of the greatest nation on earth.

Families across Johnson County will celebrate the independence holiday with picnics, gatherings of family members and friends, outings to lake beaches and parks, neighborhood barbecues, and of course, fireworks. In Johnson County, the sale and use of fireworks, however, vary in our cities, so please find out ahead of time.

A half dozen or so public fireworks shows will light up the Johnson County night skies at local Independence Day celebrations. Many of the community celebrations offer lots of things to do and to enjoy, including public flag displays, live music, entertainment, activities for all ages and food. Times and more details about local holiday events are posted on various websites of cities and organizers.

Let’s celebrate the birth of freedom and our nation in 1776; honor our Constitution and preamble, our flag and our many rights; and respect one another, our American heritage and great ideals.

On July 4, 2022, enjoy a community celebration.

Watch fireworks, have fun, be safe. Most importantly, be free. That’s the American way.