On this day across the United States, American flags will unfurl, fireworks will light up the skies and patriotic music will accompany parades marching down Main streets.
If any holiday embodies American patriotism, it is Independence Day.
In recent years, the word patriot has become highly politicized and mainly associated with right-leaning politics. In a time when we are so politically divided, what does it mean to be a patriot?
The word patriot may be associated with the political right due to the conservative value of preserving tradition. However, pushing for change, a hallmark of liberalism, can also be seen as a sign of patriotism if one honestly believes change to be what’s best for one’s country.
Indeed, the Founding Fathers sought massive change when they pushed for independence from England.
While we may be tempted to romanticize the vision of the Founding Fathers, it is important to remember that they were not of one mind on all the issues. Among themselves, they disagreed on the extent of the power of the federal government, the role of religion in the government and the power of the president, to name a few issues. And, by today’s standards, they were far from enlightened in their views on the place of women and minorities in society.
It is safe to say that the founders of our country included both liberals and conservatives of their time and place, not to mention every shade in between.
What our founders gave us is a nation that allows for a free exchange of ideas, a tradition that truly makes America great.
On this Independence Day, let’s set aside the labels as we pull up a lawn chair, enjoy some fireworks and celebrate together that we are all Americans.