This is the day that many kids of all ages wait for each summer. The excitement of cook outs, parades, and fireworks are anticipated and enjoyed by entire families and communities. I am lucky enough to live in a smaller town, where the parades are more intimate, the festivals are filled with friends and children I know, and the cooking is great!

I am a boy scout and cub scout leader, so I try to include some teaching with events and celebrations, especially when attached to historical the basic identity of our country. First, this is the celebration of the independence of the United States from the United Kingdom. The significance of this is not to bash the British, they have been friends and allies with the United States through out our history and during some of the most difficult and dangerous days we have faced. The significance is in the action of strongly independent and self sufficient people declaring their separation from a culture of class and obligation based on birth rather than skill.

The documents that were left to us by those strong willed people still resonate today. Americans resist the idea of an elite who have some right to lead, ordain or command. Americans have always been ready to fight, even among themselves when they feel the cause is just. They are willing to sacrifice treasure and life for others, and except for the period of “Manifest Destiny” without the thought of territorial gain. You can see this resolve in many of the wars the Unites States has participated in, from the World Wars, to intervention in Haiti, to placing our service men and women between hostile factions. This is not to say that the United States has always been blameless and pure. The actions taken against the Native Americans in general, and specific un-punished activities by government and civilians occur, but are not on balance the rule.

There are so many checks and balances to keep our nation on the ideal path or at least close to it. You can see the corrections from the peace and equality rallies of the 1960s, the anti-terror and anti-war rallies of the early 2000s, and the current round of protests by the TEA parties. I point out to my scouts that we have no less than four amendments to the Constitution to try to protect people of African decent (I am not kidding: XIII, XIV, XV, XXIV). First to free them from slavery, then to protect their right to vote, over and over again. It may take the United States a while to get things right, but eventually we seem to at least get close.

So as you burn bratwurst on the grill and eat too much cherry pie, consider what we are celebrating. As you watch the fireworks displays, consider the risks and challenges that our founders faces to get us where we are today. And most especially, remember those people who have through the years, worked so diligently to keep you safe and free. You will see them in the parades, service men and women, firemen and police, politicians, students, senior citizens, immigrants, farmers, and civil servants. Know your Constitution and celbrate our freedom and success. This is a freedom and success to be enjoyed by every citizen and guest.

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Martin writes about writing in his weekly column Ramblings from Martin.

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