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The Fourth is over, and U.S. pushes on: Editorial

Posted 7/5/17

The Fourth of July is over.

We hope you had fun. Maybe it was an extended weekend for you, taking Monday off and getting four days to celebrate our nation’s birth.

It was an amazing thing …

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The Fourth is over, and U.S. pushes on: Editorial

Posted

The Fourth of July is over.

We hope you had fun. Maybe it was an extended weekend for you, taking Monday off and getting four days to celebrate our nation’s birth.

It was an amazing thing that happened in July 1776. Colonies broke away from their parent country, one of the few times it has ever happened in history.

It took a revolution and the unwavering bravery of the Founding Fathers to do it, but we’ve made it this far, 241 years.

It gives us some perspective to think about those 241 years. While the political tenor in the United States right now hardly makes us feel united, we have been in much, much worse situations.

We have endured a Civil War, during which about 620,000 Americans died. To put that in perspective, that’s almost half the number of all American soldiers who have died in all our wars.

And of course we fought that Civil War because African-Americans were considered less than human. What a dark time in our history, along with the way we abused, assimilated and eliminated Native Americans.

Even 100 years after the Civil War, our race relations were awful. Lynchings in the South. Riots in Watts. Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated. We continue to improve, but there is no doubt race problems still plague us. For how long?

We went through a Great Depression.

We watched in horror on Dec. 7, 1941, as our ships sank at Pearl Harbor.

Our soldiers have died in two world wars, as well as defending us and what we believe in the years before and after World War I and World War II.

We fought a war in Vietnam that few understood and then needlessly protested against the U.S. soldiers who returned.

We have seen presidents killed, including John F. Kennedy. Many of you are old enough to remember that day vividly.

We lived through what could have been a deadly nuclear disaster in our own backyard at Three Mile Island.

We saw two space shuttles fall from the sky, killing the explorers inside them.

We endured 9/11, and plenty of terror attacks that have followed. Thank God, none have rivaled that horrific day.

We will continue to have days of sorrow in this country. We don’t know when they will be or what they will entail. But they are ahead of us.

And we will endure.

Because we always do.

We only get to live through seven or eight decades of American history, if we are lucky. Sometimes we lose perspective on what it has been like for the generations who came before us.

We have freedoms that people in some countries would be willing to die for to ensure their children could live like we do.

We live longer lives than our ancestors ever could have considered.

Technology allows us to live in ways unthinkable even 25 years ago. We have comforts that keep us cool, all the information in the world at our fingertips, and the ability to communicate with loved ones — and strangers — around the world immediately.

That same technology, in the form of social media, can bring us together. But it is also ripping us apart with brutal attacks, unwarranted accusations and fake news. It is very sad to see.

And yes, we have one of the most divisive presidents in history.

But we have also shown in our history that our country is bigger than one person.

If you are a Donald Trump supporter, you can’t wait to see what our country looks like in 3 1/2 years as we near the end of his term.

If you oppose our president’s policies and think he is destroying the country, then you likely have been mobilized to ensure his defeat, to speak out against the policies he supports, to participate in our democracy.

One of the great things about our country is the pendulum swings back and forth. When we veer too far one way politically, there is a reaction that brings us back toward the middle. Sometimes it takes years, but Americans tend to even things out.

Even though the Fourth of July is over, celebrate every day we have as Americans — the good with the bad. Our democracy is a growing entity.

“I believe in democracy,” President Woodrow Wilson said, “because it releases the energies of every human being.”

Being an American takes work. But it’s worth it.

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