As we celebrate the Fourth of July this weekend, we should appreciate the blessings of our citizenship and American heritage. I think I am rather realistic about the dark side of human nature; yet, paradoxically perhaps, I am optimistic about our country and its history. The history of the United States is like an ever-blossoming flower, as men and women of each successive generation work out the implications of the U.S. Constitution. Sometimes these struggles are peaceful; at other times they lead to civil war, revolts, protests, movements, or riots. Even President Reagan, otherwise known for his abiding optimism, once said: “Our nation, too, has a legacy of evil with which it must deal. The glory of this land has been its capacity for transcending the moral evils of our past.”
We should be critical of our country, warts and all; but as we survey our nation’s great achievements, as we consider instable and oppressive governments abroad, as we recognize the painstaking process of building and maintaining a Republic based on the rule of law, as we think about the peaceful change of power every four or eight years, as we recall generals submitting to the will of civilian leadership, as we acknowledge a political culture that takes for granted the unhindered voices of political opposition, and as we remember the sacrifices in blood and resources along the way, we have much to be thankful for indeed.