(The following was published in the Newsleader on July 2, 2010)
Just a few short years ago some very influential men got together over drinks and decided they had had enough. This had been brewing for a while. They felt that they were being taxed to death without representation. They felt they were under the control of a government which did not have their best interest at heart. They signed a document which declared they were for now and for evermore independent from that government which had been controlling them. They told the King of England to “pound sand”. They decided they would form their own government. Such was “The Declaration of Independence”.
Now signing that paper meant treason and possible death. They signed it anyway. Were they courageous or had they just had a little too much to drink? As I consider the act, I believe they were in fact courageous. They knew what was at stake and they knew the danger. They also knew what the payoff could potentially be. They, through their signing, started an experiment which continues today. That experiment is America.
America now has become the envy of the world. Our form of government is the example of how people should and can get along with each other and live as civilized beings. Our country has become the beacon to the world of law and order. We are the epitome of prosperity. We are what freedom means.
Have we had growing pains? Have we made mistakes? Of course we have. But, and this is a very big but, we have dealt with them. We have and are correcting the mistakes of the past. We are not perfect, but we are closer than any other form of government I know of. Every two years we have the opportunity to change our representation in Congress. Every six years we can change out the Senate. Our President has a term of but four years. We are truly a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Dictators need not apply. You will not be welcome.
So, what does it mean to be an American? There are many answers. I’ll try to share just a few that stand out to me. The first is personal responsibility. I am responsible for my actions, no one else. I am responsible for my success and for my failure, no one else. To me it doesn’t take a village to raise a child. It takes a responsible parent who loves and cares for that child. The rest of the village should be taking care of themselves. Being an American means I am able to speak my mind. I have the right to criticize my government and their actions. They don’t have to listen to me or anyone else, but they ignore us at their peril. I have the right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. I am not guaranteed anything but the opportunity to try. My success will be determined by me, not someone else.
As an American I believe I have an obligation to make sure this country remains the “Beacon of Freedom” the rest of the world is striving for. In my case that required that I serve a time in the military. Not everyone has that obligation, but we must always maintain the strongest defense that is possible. We all have a role.
I believe “The Constitution” is the law of the land and should be literally interpreted and followed. It is not subject to changes that might suit whoever might be in power.
These few lines do not cover all of my thoughts about being an American. I intend in future writings to discuss more of what this great experiment means to me.
It is sufficient to say that I am so grateful to have been born free. I am proud to have been born American. I hope to share my pride with you in future columns.
At this holiday season, as you are grilling your hot dogs and hamburgers, give our heritage just a brief thought. Think of what being an American means to you.
Ron Scarbro Independence Day 2010
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