It is easy to forget what we celebrate on the Fourth of July – America’s independence from a tyrant king and from taxation without representation.
Today, the United Kingdom is perhaps our closest ally.
It was interesting to hear a British choir perform the national anthems of both countries before the Red Sox-Yankees game in London on Sunday, given that “The Star-Spangled Banner” memorializes a battle against the British during the War of 1812.
We should work to someday reach a similar peace with all nations, regardless of past conflicts.
We Americans value our independence greatly – our freedom of speech (no one seems to describe Americans as quiet), our right to bear arms, our right to elect our leaders.
People often say “freedom isn’t free” in reference to the sacrifices of our military. Freedom is also not free insofar as it comes with other responsibilities at home and abroad.
Our freedoms as Americans come under attack on a regular basis from those who find certain of our freedoms inconvenient, and we must remain vigilant against efforts to curb these freedoms.
As Americans, we should also pay attention to the freedom of other peoples.
Across the world, millions of people still live under oppressive regimes.
Never mind taxation without representation; they are jailed and murdered without representation.
China continues to defend its killing of pro-democracy protesters at Tiananmen Square 30 years ago.
Iran, not content to oppress its own people, funds terrorism in other nations.
North Korea tortures and kills to stamp out challenges to its supreme leader, real or imagined.
While we have seen the dangers of attempting to impose democracy on other nations through war, we still carry great influence in the world, and should remember we did not become free on our own.
It was France that, as a great world power, came to the aid of a ragtag army of insurgent colonists against the British Empire.
So enjoy your hot dogs and fireworks, but remember the responsibility freedom brings: to defend our rights from those in our own country who would steal them and to insist on American leadership in a world where regimes more nefarious than the tea-taxing British remain in control of much of the population.