Living abroad for so many years, often times than naught, the unique all American holidays come and go with almost no fanfare. Days like Thanksgiving, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday and the Fourth of July. Today I only realized that it was the Fourth of July after coming across the following headline, “Petraeus Marks July 4 with Troops in Afghanistan”.
I clicked on the link and read what I had expected of the nation’s favorite warrior-turning-politician to so cynically spew to our troops in Afghanistan,
“I cannot say how impressive your action is,” he said. “It is the most meaningful display of patriotism possible.”
Unlike the General — who can do no wrong because he is a general — I have always loved the Fourth of July, not for the barbecues, cold beer, fireworks (though as a kid, I loved how my grandmother would light sparklers for us and let us hold them), or flag displays, but for the perfect text of the Declaration of Independence, signed … you guessed it, on the Fourth of July.
The Declaration of Independence is the covenant par excellence setting forth the relationship between a people and their government upon which all modern democracies exist. I know of no better expression of the natural law of nations. It is the true birth of republicanism.
So how do we marry the “most meaningful display of patriotism possible” with the occupation of a foreign people, unforgivable quantities of civilian collateral deaths resulting therefrom, and the criminalization of all resistance to that occupation with the Fourth of July – our American celebration of the expression of a people’s will to self-governance and the desire for divorce from the foreign power that mandates from afar?
Instead of celebrating independence through occupation, a greater display of patriotism would be to read the Declaration of Independence on its birth day and demand that your government lives up to its spirit at home, not abuse it abroad: Continue reading