pushing20

maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets. -arthur miller

7.04.2005

Fourth

Two hundred and twenty-nine years ago, those men, brilliant and frustrated, decided it was time. I imagine passionate arguments, white hair curling in the heat, tailored jackets made by tailots in the way that no one makes anything anymore thrown over the backs of ancient chairs. Unable to wait any longer, they politely asked Great Britain to Kiss Our Collective American Ass.

And so they presented this list of grievences, this list of self-evident truths. I read the Declaration in awe and with a little bit of contempt. Created equal, are we? Millions of dead Native Americans (for god's sake, it's right there in the name-- Native Americans. Why couldn't they see it?) and ninety years of slavery, not to mention the thousands of Asian Americans who wouldn't see citizenship until 1965. These are our original sins.

And yet there is hope for redemption in the Declaration, and then ten years and eleven months later in the Constitution. Perhaps it took those years to realize what is now so evident. We can hope only for a more perfect Union than what came before, and if we work tirelessly and believe in it hard enough maybe someday we'll get there.

I speak of America in religious terms because I know no other way. Sins. Redemption. Faith. Our founding fathers are more than heroes, they are legend. Monticello and Mount Vernon are the American Mount Olympus.

I study America because it is frustrating, challenging, and inspiring. Our narrative is one of blind faith in ideals and nose-to-the-grindstone hard work. President Clinton said in his first inaugural address that there is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed by what is right about America. I can't help but be moved by his optimism and unwavering faith in the principles that the founding generation wrote down for the first time in the history of the world.

Today I'll go to the gym, watch fireworks, and laugh with friends. But at the same time in the back of my mind I am constantly in awe of the real reasons we all get together to barbecue and drink cold beer on July 4th.

I celebrate America's birthday today and look forward to the challenge of creating a more perfet union in our own time.

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