Two hundred forty-four years ago on July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence for America’s first 13 colonies, in effect, claiming they were no longer subject to the rule of England. This seminal event led to the formation of the United States of America, now 50 states and territories, and the evolution of America herself. As Americans, particularly in the 20th century, we have stood as a beacon of hope and humanity. Traditionally, we honor our nation’s birthday with baseball, picnics, concerts, carnivals and fireworks.
Independence Day 2020 will not look quite the same as our country wrestles with multiple efforts. A global pandemic plagues communities worldwide, racial and civic unrest has our attention, and economic uncertainty overshadows it all. Many service members and families struggle with uncertainty as our senior leaders untangle the PCS knots the pandemic generated. Some wonder if there is anything to celebrate as we seemingly move from one crisis to another or as social media reveals fissures in our society.
Of course there is. Our country is not perfect, but we inarguably continue to improve. Our citizens are free to voice for their beliefs, to advocate for change and we have the rule of law to enact such changes to guarantee justice to all. That is what makes Independence Day 2020 all the more important and significant. Despite the many differences that exist, Americans unite in the belief that our country and the principles upon which it was founded – freedom, justice and equality for all – are worth defending.
When compared to most countries, even at 244 years old, our nation is still pretty young. We continue to mature in order to face the trials of an evolving and complex environment. There have been many past struggles this country successfully faced in almost every facet of life. There will always be a new test over the horizon for us to meet. Americans are resilient. We will prevail.
While this Fourth of July may not see large crowds gathering to view fireworks (unless with face coverings), or filling ballparks, I encourage you to look for alternate ways to reconnect with others, to count the blessings that we have as a country, and resolve to work together through the challenges that present themselves today so that we may rise tomorrow stronger as a Nation.
As Soldiers, we take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. As we honor America’s founding, it is truly an honor to serve.