The Fourth of July

06/07/11 8:11 AM

July 4, 2011. It’s Independence Day in America. I am in New York City–along with millions of other visitors from around the globe to celebrate America’s birthday.

The Fourth of July is a holiday to reflect upon what many take for granted; freedom and democracy. Democracy is not a spectator sport. One must be an involved citizen, speak up, and become an advocate for justice. One must not fall into the habit of being quick to criticize and slow to praise.

I will write about the Fourth of July using my across-stick method.

Freedom shall ring from houses of worship, Buddhist chimes, and the sound of wind from mountain tops. Freedom allows one the ability to speak freely. To me, freedom is responsible journalism and public discourse that is less acerbic and more wisdom-driven.

Our Founding Fathers and Patriotic Mothers had incredible foresight when crafting a new nation rooted in the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What other nation wishes it people to be happy? Our democracy has endured. It has been tested and challenged. America will continue to thrive—-only if we participate in our democracy. Participatory democracy will secure the health of  our political system. Become politically active and involved in one’s community. Democratic action takes place at local, state, and national levels.

Undaunted courage shown by our military. The men and women that comprise the various branches of the United States military serve with pride, intelligence, and a commitment to defending freedom. I salute your dedication and loyalty to our nation. I also salute military families who make sacrifices often living in foreign lands, sending off  love ones for a tour of duty, and/or holding down the fort as we say, here, at home.

Representative democracy. We have a voice when it comes to government. Vote. People forget that there are those in other countries yearning to cast a secret ballot and make their voices heard. I will say it three times……, vote, vote–yet not during the same election!

The Four Freedoms noted by Franklin D. Roosevelt in his famous speech during the World War II era is something we should all read. President Roosevelt articulates the essence of freedom. His words are relevant and ring true today as when they were penned decades ago. Norman Rockwell also visualized Roosevelt’s Four Freedom with precision in his  paintings with the same name. GOOGLE Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms using a GOOGLE image search. What you will see are American values painted on canvas’.

House of Representatives and the Senate. Two bodies that may not always agree, yet they have citizens best interest at hand and heart. Just a reminder. We the people have the power to communicate openly with our representatives to share our thoughts, express our opinions, agree or disagree—agreeably.  Contact your representatives.  Make your voice heard.

Overcome injustice. America is a work in progress. We have made great strides in combating inequality and injustice.  I look at where we have been as a nation and see where we need to travel. We still have room to grow and nurture. Diversity and inclusiveness  makes America an even better nation.

Foster a new America. One less dependent on unclean, inefficient energy.   I am astute enough to note globalization is essential to our economy, yet as a nation we must move boldly forward to where our manufacturing sector comes home after a long absence abroad.  The vacation is over people. Look at where  your goods are made. Write manufacturers and inquire if their American brands can be produced here in America. This is one aspect of jumpstarting American job growth. When fostering a new America, we as a society must be more polite and less rude. Slow down. Create a new culture of deliberate thought based upon civility and intellectualism. 

Jury of one’s peers. The legal process may be slow, yet it is methodical . We have the right to appeal decisions. We have the right to legal representation. Our legal system is based on the tenant that one is innocent until proven guilty—not the other way around.

United we stand. Look at how Americans rally to help fellow Americans–and others around the globe–during  their hour of need. Think of recent tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods. Americans are benevolent and are quick to extend a helping hand.

Liberty and justice—for all. And I mean ALL.   There is a place at the table for you……even if you are purple.

Yes. America has a yes-we-can attitude. One may succeed with hard work tenacity, and help from friends, family, and the kindness of strangers. We are inventive and creative by nature. Math, art, science, music, languages, social studies, literature, physical education, logic, debate, and hands-on learning are essential to our public educational system.

In closing, this is your day. Stand proud. Display an American flag . Thank those who serve our nation and society. While in New York City, I made it a point to personally walk up to police officers, National Guard soldiers patrolling Grand Central Station,  Metro West and Amtrak employees, and New York City traffic control officers thanking them for their service.

Happy birthday, America!

What is a birthday celebration without cake?

Time for a slice of New York cheesecake from Juniors near Times Square!

From New York City………………..Brendan Ben Feeney

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