Burnette: This Fourth of July, Remember Our American Values

The Statue of Liberty in 2008. (Unmodified photo by Radhika Bhagwat used under a Creative Commons license. http://bit.ly/1jxQJMa)

Fourth of July, Independence Day, a day of great barbecues and fireworks; it’s when we celebrate the ratifying of the Declaration of Independence and becoming our own nation, separated from the crown of Great Britain.

The government of the United States is founded on principles of freedom for people to choose what course the country should take. The fundamentals of the United States Constitution are two prime things: a government by the people for the people and pluralism.

Think about it. The Constitution before it was amended was a document that laid out a system of government that was designed to be the most democratic of any nation at that time.

Who can vote has been constitutionally expanded half a dozen or so times depending on how you look at the 13th-15th Amendments. All of those expansions had to do with cultural expansion. First it was expanding the vote beyond the electoral college, then guaranteeing the vote to men regardless of race, then to women, and then to all adults.

It was always about pluralism, making sure people from more and more backgrounds and situations had the ability to vote. The acceptance of people into society continued to be expanded in our Constitution and in our other laws—though that is up for debate in some situations today.

The United States has always been a place of refuge for so many people from everywhere around the earth. While some people came here under less than ideal situations, we are all here now and we must embrace each other.

The patriotism we feel should not be not only centered in pride but in love for our country. If we are too consumed in pride we begin to forget that there is room for improvement, we forget that we are less than perfect.

That love for country needs to come with understanding that there are others from different backgrounds than us. There are people from other economic situations than us. Some people have better and some people have worse family backgrounds than us. Some people are more educated than us and there are some people who are less educated.

When we show our patriotism today, let us remember all those around us in this country, people of other faiths, of other ethnic and cultural backgrounds, of all degrees of health, and all walks of life.

It is only with an America that is competitive, with everyone living up to their full potential, that America will live up to her full potential.

We have proven time and time again, that this country is in the long run, a pluralist society. We have our setbacks, but we continue to become more and more accepting in our laws and in our hearts.

It is this pluralism that makes America unique. This pluralism must always continue. Everyone must be included in our society—no matter the excuse for exclusion. There is a spot here for everyone.

When everyone in our country votes, we make the future of our nation more inclusive for all to succeed. When we all vote and we all are included, we can build a nation that is beyond what anyone can imagine.

Our patriotism should be rooted in love, patriotism, and participation in our democracy. There are many nations and cultures older than the United States, but this union is the oldest constitutional democracy. Let’s show that we are the wise elder for the rest of the world to follow and continue to expand our democracy and love for the freedom that comes with it.

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