By Tiger Shi
Web Content Contributor
“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 these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
These were the words written in the Declaration of Independence 244 years ago announcing the foundation of a new nation from the British Empire in 1776. This document was written by Thomas Jefferson and presented to the Second Continental Congress.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that our country was flawless. The declaration, indeed, mentioned the word “equal,” and yet women and minorities faced hardships. However, America overcame these difficult times by replacing bad ideas with good ideas.
American women had played many roles in important events in history. They fought alongside men in the Revolutionary War and eventually fought for their own rights in Women’s Suffrage. Their persistence led to the passage of the 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920. It was a major victory in achieving gender equality. Today, abortion is a current controversial topic about women’s rights.
The horrors of slavery had existed since ancient times; it was the U.S. that fought a bloody civil war to end slavery with President Lincoln issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. This proclamation was a beginning that led to the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments.
Since the end of the Civil War and Reconstruction, minority groups have still faced discrimination from racist laws like Jim Crow. This discrimination was mostly eliminated by a great achievement known as the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Our country also opened up in modern times to acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. We see landmark success recently from the Supreme Court striking down an executive regulation that was deemed unconstitutional.
Before this, efforts to fight for marriage equality started in fact as early as the 1950’s, and in 2015, same-sex marriage was legalized federally.
As a fan of history, I admire the many great Americans throughout history.
I am fan of the work by Martin Luther King Jr, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Fredrick Douglass, JFK and Ronald Reagan. I remember when I did a project on George W. Bush in elementary school, but now looking back after learning more, I don’t really “like” him.
Nowadays, our generation can now look at modern-day politicians in terms of their actions before it becomes “history,” like Former President Obama and President Trump.
This current generation is the rising sun– the future leaders of our country.
Some of us may be ordinary people with a stable job, while others may become POTUS. Regardless of party, we shall unite on a common ground: understanding the meaning of why we are Americans.
We are currently going through, what I’d describe as, the American Cultural Revolution. If you pay attention to the news and compare historically, all is too familiar to the events during the Chinese Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976.
My point for this holiday is in order to celebrate the 4th, we must understand and accept our history: learn from the bad parts and celebrate the good parts. Furthermore, must be willing to talk to the “other side” politically. If we continue to be intolerant with one another, how will we progress as Americans?
I acknowledge that America is not flawless. In the end, good ideas triumph all. This past 4th of July, I celebrated the country’s 244th birthday once more by reminding myself that we the people are a melting pot with liberty and justice for all. It is like what President Reagan once said, “If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.”
Featured image by Tiger Shi.