Once again it’s the July 4th Holiday. A celebration of Independence Day for our nation. But it’s also a sure sign of summer, barbeques and family gatherings, fireworks, and trips to the mountains, lakes and beaches. Well, it traditionally has been. COVID 19 has likely put a wrench into many family plans and vacations. For many of us, we will still try to get away somewhere, maybe locally get together with friends and colleagues, maybe even teach or take courses! But no matter what you do, perhaps the best Fourth of July wish from us to you is to please stay safe and healthy!
But more important, maybe we should use the July 4th Holiday to hit the pause button and reflect. We realize that’s hard for many of you because of the impact of COVID 19 on lives, work, education, career and relationships. Yes, this has been and continues to be a difficult time. But we hope each of you can take a moment, a day or even longer, just to take a deep breath and think about what July 4th means to you.
Maybe one opportunity for reflection might be to participate in the virtual July 4th celebration to be held at the National Archives in Washington, DC. For 50 years, the Archives has celebrated the founding of the United States with a traditional reading ceremony of the Declaration of Independence on the Museum steps. This year, the National Archives will lift the words of the Declaration of Independence off of its well-worn parchment and bring them to homes across the country online. Check out the details at: http://www.archivesjuly4.org/
As citizens, we will all attach different meanings and views to the Declaration of Independence. Let’s be honest, even the founding of the nation as reflected in this document reflects shortcomings of its era, including sexism, racism and prejudice against Native Americans. As you read that document, ask if we have achieved what the Founding Fathers hoped for or if we have evolved enough as a nation to address the needs and demands of all citizens past and present? Maybe a place to start thinking about that is by actually reading the Declaration of Independence. What does it mean to you, your family, and fellow citizens? And how do you balance or reconcile that past with the quest for freedom and liberty and those that have sacrificed much for the independence of this country? Considering the past may provide direction for the future!
Regardless of all its faults, the Declaration of Independence is a remarkable document. On this July 4th, let’s reflect on the positives it has achieved for this nation but not shy away from the negatives that we may have glossed over. Remember, a celebration is a chance to look back and take in the good, but it’s equally a chance to see where and how we can do better. In any event…Happy Fourth of July to all!!!
Dr. Robert W. Smith
College of Public Affairs and Administration
If you have questions, feel free to connect with us and request more information!