Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Aug. 11, 2020

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In Our View: Fourth celebrates our exceptional experiment

The Columbian

We have much to celebrate.

Despite a global pandemic, an uncertain economy and civil unrest spurred by demands for racial justice, the United States of America has much to honor. For there are many good things about this nation, which long has been a beacon of freedom for the rest of the world.

While America’s flaws have been in the spotlight recently, and while acknowledgement of those flaws is the first step toward addressing them, today we recognize the commonalities in the people who have made the United States an economic and military power that is a global leader.

This weekend marks a celebration of the experiment in democracy that forged the foundation for that leadership. The Fourth of July is the anniversary of this nation declaring its independence from the British monarchy, and with the Fourth falling on a Saturday, today is the observed holiday. And so, we offer an incomplete list of some of the things Americans have to celebrate:

• Spacious skies, amber waves of grain, purple mountain majesties and fruited plains . . . from sea to shining sea. As detailed in the lyrics to “America the Beautiful,” the United States is a uniquely gorgeous country, blessed with a variety of natural wonders. And Americans have had the good sense to preserve many of those wonders, including through a remarkable national parks system.

Many of those wonders can be found in Washington, which touches a shining sea and is home to waves of grain, majestic mountains and fruited plains.

• Unmatched innovation. From the lightbulb to the moon landing to the iPhone, American ingenuity has transformed the world. American exceptionalism, the result of capitalism fostered by our social and political constructs, has helped lead to inventions that have improved the lives of individuals around the globe. You probably never imagined you needed a combination phone, camera, computer and music player in your pocket — until Americans invented it.

Washington, again, is a leader in this regard. From Boeing to Microsoft to Starbucks to Amazon, entrepreneurs in this state have been enhancing daily life for decades.

• Inspiring leaders and role models. From the Founding Fathers to Susan B. Anthony to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and beyond, the United States has been blessed with visionaries seeking to create a better world — often at great personal peril. Often, the most profound impact is made by civic leaders rather than elected officials or military leaders, reinforcing the American belief in the power of the individual.

• The Bill of Rights. The first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution were designed to preserve the inalienable rights of American citizens, showing remarkable foresight at a time when most nations were governed by the whims of a monarch.

• Freedom of the press. As spelled out in the First Amendment, freedom of the press has guaranteed a stalwart watchdog against government oppression. As Thomas Jefferson wrote: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

• The Statue of Liberty. A gift from France in the 1880s, the statue stands sentry in New York Harbor, asking the world to “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Those are some of the things we celebrate this weekend. May they serve as reminders that we all are Americans.