Celebration time, c’mon, America persists and her dream sustains

The United States did not grow from empty concepts, nor is she kept alive with apathy.
America’s ideals and promises exist because her citizens believe and care and hope. They are maintained with sweat and devotion. They should be celebrated with fervor and passed on with zeal. Contemplation of the effort and courage it took to make both a reality is not always enough to sustain our belief. We need to touch and see and feel the spirit. We need to kindle that spirit persistently with dedication and commitment.

Despite her promises, America has used religion, race, heritage, economic status, gender and physical attributes and mental capabilities as bases for denial of equality.
And yet America persists. Her dream sustains. Her people endure. People clamor to come to her shores. Liberty continues to captivate the imagination of the world.

July 1986. I have watched the celebrations, listened to the speeches, read the personal accounts of disillusionment with the distance liberty has traveled during 210 years of American history. Now, in quiet reflection, I am able to answer those people who used this time to protest that America has not fully realized her potential and not completely fulfilled her promises.
To them I say:
My Irish ancestors, my French ancestors, my English ancestors and my Indian ancestors were all, at one time, in one way or another, discriminated against. But that was then and this is now. I have never been able to measure up to the slender sleekness that Madison Avenue thrusts upon us as the image of perfection. I have felt the humiliating sting of poverty in the land of plenty. I have been refused work because motherhood “might” interfere. But that was then and this is now.

Liberty cannot be measured by time nor by space. “how far” is not a distance history can cover by marching through quotas and time tables or arbitrary definitions of desire. Liberty is measurable only through the shining eyes and swelling hearts of her believers. Evidence of the gratitude, the pride, the care, devotion and love of those committed to her cause is abundant. A pause for celebration does not blind Liberty’s children to the collective and individual imperfections of America and her citizens. It does not ignore her shortcomings and it does not repudiate injustices, past and present.

Even the most ferocious battles are littered with strategic pauses and re-groupings, however brief. Celebration of an ideal should be one of those respites. Inability to leave the past in its proper place puddles ones perception of the present and clouds ones vision of the future with unnecessary murkiness. For one brief, shining moment Liberty’s flame should be allowed to chase our disappointments into the shadows.

There is no better refreshment for the spirit than unabashed patriotism. There is no better way to commemorate the visionary ideals and idealistic visions of our forefathers. We have erected impressive mental and physical symbols to remind ourselves of those visions and ideals.

Many of America’s children have heard the stories. They have not experienced the anguish, the sacrifices, the injustices endured by older generations, but they do have to cope with discrimination and injustices, dreams and desires repackaged in twenty-first century clothing. As they go about resolving these problems, we must show our children, vividly, eloquently, poignantly, why we cherish and protect the symbols of our freedom so that Liberty herself continues strong for future generations. They must know that vigilance is not a sometime thing, nor is it static. Celebration is but one manifestation of our passion. It is as necessary as the fighting spirit that gave us something to celebrate in the first place.

Perhaps the Statue of Liberty, the Stars and Stripes and the homage we pay them are but symbolic sparks, but held lofty and strong those sparks fuel magnificent fires. Without fuel a fire will die. Without hope human hearts will not and cannot struggle. Hopeful celebration should not be abandoned because we have not yet achieved perfection. America’s passions run deep. Her fire must not be allowed to grow cold.
America’s celebrations bear witness to the strength of her determination to never forget why she is here, nor lose sight of where she is going.


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