One of the dangers of calling today's holiday simply "July Fourth" is that we drop the meaning, often with the result that children (and some adults) forget what is being celebrated. The name "Independence Day" captures the meaning; the day when our country became an independent sovereign nation. There is more to this holiday than parades, barbecues, sunburn, and fireworks.
The principle at stake during the battle for our independence as a nation was independence on the whole, individual independence and rights that make this the most free and greatest country on Earth. In the past few years, it has become frowned upon to be so proud of this fact - and some will try to tell you we are not actually as free as we claim - but in comparison to the rest of the countries in the world, we are the most free. Our freedoms have been infringed upon recently, both by outside attackers and by our own government. While I won't go into that here, I'm not unaware of it.
Washington and Jefferson fought a battle for a principle, and considering how apt people are to rail against principle on principle (how ironic and hypocritical), they fought more than just a battle of might and force - they fought a battle of the mind, for a philosophical principle so crucial to human life that it requires the live-or-death stakes of full out war to defend. These great men fought for our right to live as we see fit, and in turn enforced as the law the moral code requiring that we not infringe on this right in the lives of others. This is so crucial to how we live today in this country, as well as how we influence the countries and individuals in the rest of the world. Understanding independence, and how it makes the United States of America unique, is crucial to understanding the thinking and actions of other nations and individuals.
I'm preaching to the choir, I hope.
So today, I'm celebrating my right to do what I want. I'm drinking white wine, hanging out with my dog, I'm spending money on entertaining and other non-essentials, I'm being anti-social when I want to, and overtly social when I want to. I'm writing about history and philosophy, but I'm also sending vapid status updates into the void via Twitter. I'm working, playing, living and loving in our beautiful house with my beloved husband. There are places in the world today when one or more this simple things is forbidden, and I celebrate the fact that I am not living in one of those places.
I wish all the good people in the world could either live here, or could fight to have their home countries allow them the freedoms that I enjoy. There are a multitude of excellent private charities that support efforts to pursue freedom and justice around the world - but often they fail to correctly evaluate the premises of the culture in these countries, and so money goes to waste because it can't make it past corrupt hands or other barriers. For me, this is one of the most aggravating things of all. Here are in America, with our wealth and awareness of the problems in the world, we often we can't get our dollar to have nearly the impact we would expect it to. I'm always searching for skilled charities, if you know of them please recommend them.