Tuesday, July 04, 2006


I love that we celebrate Independence Day as the birth date of our country. This is the anniversary of the date that the Founders declared that this was a new nation. Not the date it actually became a nation, mind you, the date they said so. We could have chosen so many other dates – Cornwallis’ surrender to Washington, ratification of the Articles of Confederation, Constitution Day – but we choose the day that men years ago decided to say they were independent.

I love it first off, because it’s so quintessentially American to say that the thing started on the day people started the thing.

But I also love it because as the beginning rather than an end, it underscores the idea that the American project is ongoing. We work every day to get closer to our ideals of liberty and justice for all. And for that matter, we work to understand what those ideals mean. We’ve now figured out – that slavery thing? – doesn’t really fit.

So as we celebrate the day – eating too much, getting sunburned, watching flaming chemicals – let’s also contemplate what this America thing can be and how we can get it there.

Happy Birthday, America.