It’s the Fourth of July – Independence Day. For many, it will be a day at the beach or public park. There will be parades with brass bands, picnics planned with family and friends, and as dusk sets in, the expectation of fireworks is realized. Starbursts and all manner of ear-splitting airborne explosions and aerial displays named after flowers like peonies, dahlias, and chrysanthemums decorate the darkening skies. It’s one of the ways Americans celebrate our great and enduring experiment in democracy. But it’s also a memorialization of something else: exceptionalism. The United States is an exceptional country.
Independence Day – A Day to Showcase Exceptionalism
America is different, in the best possible way, from nations now and in the past not because our leaders and citizens are currently or historically perfect and without moral and ethical blemishes. Any newspaper’s front page on any day of the week will burst that bubble. No. What makes America exceptional as a nation is a subtle construct. As citizens, we have traditionally been brought up to recognize when we are wrong, and we take steps to correct those transgressions. We are helped by a constitution constructed so that it guides and, in many cases, demands rectifying personal and public policy wrongdoing. American exceptionalism is an ideal held by people with a shared experience. Michael Wilkerson expressed this idea in his book Why America Matters: The Case for a New Exceptionalism. He wrote:
“American exceptionalism started with a lofty set of ideals, beliefs, and principles about its meaning – and the nations’ destiny – that have defined and shaped the country ever since. But America is more than just an idea. America is rooted in a specific place and time, and a certain set of historical experiences that shaped the country and its people. America’s true greatness has always been rooted in the transcendent – i.e., in its ideals, its values, and its aspirations…”
Eric Metaxas, the renowned author of Is Atheism Dead? and Letter to the American Church, took this idea further in his book If You Can Keep It. “In 1776 a nation was formed in a way that a nation never had been formed,” Metaxas posits. “It was something entirely new: the nation as idea. For the first time, a nation was created that was not merely a group of ethnically or tribally similar people.” Additionally, Metaxas explains America was not a country made up of a bunch of different groups “held together by a strong leader.” Most countries fell into one of those two categories. The United States did not. Abraham Lincoln described America’s uniqueness succinctly at Gettysburg: “[T]hat government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
However, American exceptionalism is not a watch-work, wound once and set in motion to endure forever. Keeping alive these self-evident truths, “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,” to quote the Declaration of Independence, is a continual work in progress. New energy must be constantly added to keep the ideal alive. As with entropy, if left unattended, the momentum of the ideals Americans hold dear will fall prey to active malevolent forces or simply a malaise unwilling to confront ideas designed to destroy the cultural touchstones that set the US apart.
A Day to Rise Above the Detractors
We have all seen the ugly side of people taking advantage of America’s legacy of freedoms to tear down statues and monuments, vandalizing symbols of revered leaders. We have seen marches in our city streets of people whose appalling behavior and lack of a moral standard is on display. Our municipal government leaders look the other way as roving anarchist thugs destroy businesses and take innocent lives. If, by doing these despicable things, they believe they are somehow mortally wounding the ideals for which America stands, they are misguided and have failed to learn from our country’s history. Do they think they are the first to take on and disparage patriotic Americans of goodwill? More than a testament to the silly and intellectually feeble, these acts are also a warning that liberty taken for granted becomes a victim of tyranny in short order with no easy recovery.
Each year on Independence Day, we commemorate and rejoice that at a time in our history when we were subject to the boot of tyranny, brave patriots exemplified the character and intrepidity to create a “land of the free and home of the brave.” The founders of the United States had no illusions about how remarkably uncommon establishing the independence of the original 13 colonies was or how fragile the republic they had crafted might be. It’s why Benjamin Franklin, when asked what the outcome was of the Constitutional Convention just concluded in 1787, famously said: “A republic, if you can keep it.” Stalwart Americans have kept it exceptional for 247 years. “Today the US Constitution is the oldest written national constitution in operation in the world,” History.com tells us. Let’s keep a uniquely remarkable idea going.
Liberty Nation Today:
Bidenomics Adds $1 Trillion to Debt in Three Months – Swamponomics - The national debt, stagflation, and beef. - Read Now!
ABC Poll Sends Democrats Into Orbit - As Yogi Berra used to say, it’s getting late early for Joe Biden. - Read Now!
Is Sending US Military Advisors to Ukraine a Good Idea? - The notion of sending Kyiv US on-the-ground trainers is growing. - Read Now!
Boston U Anti-Racism Center Blows $40 Million in Three Years - Nothing of substance produced and now a newspaper is investigating. - Read Now!
NFL to Bud Light: “Hold My Beer” - Some folks just refuse to learn from the mistakes of others. - Read Now!