For some reason, I always thought the United States was a very young country, but when I did some research, I was in for a shock. Although we haven’t even reached our 250th anniversary yet, most of the countries on Planet Earth were formed considerably later than the U.S. was. Don’t take my word for it. If you don’t believe me, go to Wikipedia’s list of sovereign states by dates of formation. We are no longer the new kid on the block, but rather an aging country.
The good news is that we have endured and thrived because of the genius of our founding fathers, and contrary to the pundits, cynics, skeptics, and naysayers (and the country abounds in them), we are still the envy of billions of people around the world. We have suffered wars, severe economic downturns and even unfit leaders (I will refrain from the obvious temptation here), yet our country continues to enjoy freedoms and prosperity of which most people could only dream.
Once a year, we honor the vision and courage of that small group of true patriots who literally risked their lives to give us a democracy that has withstood the test of time. The concept of checks and balances, the rights of the individual and the minority, the recognition that open criticism of the government is an essential part of a true democracy — all have helped make our form of government most unusual, if not unique.
For those who prematurely announce the demise of our system and lament the growing loss of civility, just remember that in 1804 two political enemies, Aaron Burr, a sitting vice president of the United States, killed a former secretary of the treasury, Alexander Hamilton. It seems to me it doesn’t get less civil than that.
July Fourth is a great time to remember how blessed we are to live here despite our country’s many faults and frailties. I cannot begin to think of another country where I would rather live. Happy birthday, old country of mine!