This Fourth of July 2009 is as good a time as any to reflect on our country and what it means to me. I’m lucky that I was born in the U.S.A. I’m thankful that my ancestors had the courage to break away from the love of their families to immigrate here, sailing across treacherous waters and not knowing what their future would hold for them.
I’m lucky I was not born in a land controlled by a dictator, or one where I could be persecuted because of my political or religious beliefs, or one where I could be stoned to death because of my dress or because of the color of my skin. I’m lucky I wasn’t born in a country where flies swarm around my eyes and mouth and due to starvation I couldn't swat them off.
Long ago when I was a dumb kid studying American history, the words in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights must really have impressed me because they have stuck with me ever since. I guess you could say that their meaning has had a profound impact on this old broad’s life. And I guess you could also say that I am a strong believer in and a fierce defender of the beliefs as they are so clearly and so simply stated in these documents.
Over the last few years I have grown increasingly uncomfortable with the extreme elements of both political parties, emphasis on “both”. Have they not read these documents? Have they forgotten what they mean? Do they simply not understand them? Are they so busy defending the Second Amendment that they forget the First? Are they so short-sighted that they think their way is the only way?
The first words in the Declaration of Independence leave no doubt as to their meaning: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among them are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Purely and simply, this document leaves no room for misinterpretation.
In the Bill of Rights it says: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
In neither of these documents do I see words or phrases such as “excluding” or “except for” or “not allowed” or “need not apply.” Nowhere in these documents do I see a particular group of people left out because of their race or because of their religion or because of their color or their ancestry or their sexual orientation.
This is what my country means to me.