“O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!”
America is a work in progress. By law this year we assured equal standing for all Americans regardless of sexual preference to marry consistent with their religious beliefs. Our first African-American President is completing his second term in office. We our now comfortable to criticize him as we have other Presidents. This is acceptance and progress, although for some it remains bigotry. It took some deaths in South Carolina, but we are poised to at last have the Confederate flag removed from government buildings. As a vestige of disunity and bias its time had come. We are starting to move on.
This country offers freedom of thought, belief, race, sexual preference, speech, religion, association and opportunity. Not all Americans share or practice these beliefs but each year we inch forward to meet these aspirations. There are more inter-racial and inter-cultural marriages and single families each year. We are not a nation of pedigrees. Class exists in this country, but it is economic class. We need to chip away at this to preserve the middle class and those who aspire to it. Our strength is that we are a nation of mutts. Our heritage is a combination of the world’s heritages. We continue to build on this. This self-improvement will sustain us as a great nation.
We are critical of ourselves, but this is a strength, not a weakness. Like a big dog we tolerate little dogs that bark and nip at its heals. No one should under-estimate that we are a big dog, especially those who are intolerant of beliefs other than their own.
I watched a rerun of the “Seventies” this week. It was about Watergate. I had not thought about it for a long time. I lived in Washington during that period and I remember as vividly as watching Congress reluctantly put TARP in place while in Zurich. We had real statesman at that time who recognized a threat to our constitutional government and the world’s economy. During Watergate they risked their careers to preserve our “liberty in law”. I have been fortunate and unfortunate to live through and witness significant periods of our recent history. Landing on the moon; the assassinations of President Kennedy, Senator Kennedy and Martin Luther King; the Civil Rights and Vietnam War and movements; Watergate; and 9/11 which I saw unfold downtown. I am first generation. My parents lived through the Depression and WWII to give us a life and an opportunity in the U.S.. There are many parents who have done this and will continue to do this from all over the world. We need to preserve this.
As I did last year, I again wish all Americans a Happy 4th of July. I particularly wish those in our armed forces, in our police departments and in our intelligence communities a safe 4th and safe return home if they are abroad. It is not easy to keep this country safe and they often make this sacrifice of themselves and their families, without notice.