It’s easy to believe America is well-defined: There’s a flag, 50 states and a handy launch date to celebrate every summer. Its centuries-old government has survived numerous conflicts and presided over a society that has grown and matured thanks in large part to its human capital, immense natural wealth and the willingness to embrace new ideas.
Yet, America is not singular idea with an unbroken, continuous history. For centuries, indigenous peoples have thrived here and fought for sovereignty. Through slavery, disenfranchisement and prejudice, African-Americans have sought equality here. And immigrants from around the world have come here in search of a better life. Even the Constitution — a source of democratic pride here in these United States — is merely a second attempt at forming a central government.
More than a place, a nation or a document, America is the people. As such, it is a concept of shared existence as complex, interwoven and beautiful as any humanity has to offer.
When honoring America on July 4th, celebrate people: those who came before, those who live here now and the many on their way who admire the ideals that generations have furthered for the sake of common progress for all.
Star Tribune – July 3, 2019