>The challenge of July 4th


Make sure you’ve got on your flag pin.

When I think about celebrating this Fourth of July, I find myself wondering about where we are and what has got us here. What most fascinates me, and what I am most amazed by, are the stories of people like you and me who have fought for freedom. I don’t necessarily mean soldiers, but ordinary people who became extraordinary because of circumstances. I mean those who stood up against slavery, stood up for women’s right to vote, stood up for workers’ rights, stood up for civil rights, stood up for you and me.

One of the finest works of historical investigation and writing is Howard Zinn’s remarkable A People’s History of the United States. Throughout that book there are challenges on every page, challenges that remind us what freedom really means and what it takes for people to be free, and just how much freedom is truly a deep, deep longing.

Recently there have been public readings of that book. Here are some excerpts:

Brain Jones reads Frederick Douglass

Lili Taylor reads Susan B. Anthony

Steve Earl reads Joe Hill

This country has always been an experiment. Our freedoms are probably more tenuous than we tend to believe. We have freedoms because they were fought for, because they are still being fought for. Those freedoms will, I’m sure, need to be fought for again. I believe the Fourth of July should be more than a commemoration of 1776. I want to remember how so many ordinary people all along the way have struggled to achieve this country’s ideals. And how many still do. Every Fourth reminds us of how we too are part of this on-going experiment. It is a challenge to each of us to do the work of freedom. I do not want to forget that.

May you have a great Fourth of July!

2 thoughts on “>The challenge of July 4th

  1. >Fantastic thoughts and you are correct in sighting Zinn’s book as being an excellent read. In the spirit of doing instead of observing, my wife, son and I celebrated the 4th of July today by helping sign people up to vote. It felt nice to actually do something positive to celebrate this day.-Dillon McDaniel

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