On the Fourth, a message of unity
Monday and the weekend before it, we will celebrate Independence Day with fireworks, picnics, ballgames, trips to the pool, camping outings and all the trappings of the high-summer holiday. Amidst all the fun, most of us will still find time to reflect on the defiant birth of our republic 229 years ago.
There is an iconic image of that birth depicting great men celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia.
We were indeed blessed with great leadership during the Revolution and the successful nation-building that followed, but independence was won from the day's superpower because ordinary Americans shared the ideals behind Thomas Jefferson's eloquent words and were willing to back up George Washington's sometimes desperate determination to keep an army in the field.
It is still the willingness of citizens to do the work that breathes life into our democracy. Today, the most significant demonstration of that willingness is provided by those serving in our all-volunteer military and the many citizen-soldiers pressed into full-time duty to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.
This community is well aware of that call to duty. There has been a rotating absence of our fathers, sons, sisters and daughters -- a seeming rapture of missing faces that is likely to continue.
Whatever one may think about the Iraq war, the duty and sacrifice of our troops is to be honored. Their desires are simply to succeed at their mission of improving the lot of Iraqis and make us here more secure.
That shared respect serves as a salve against our increasing polarization, which has political operatives questioning the contribution or patriotism of all those of a different political slant.
There will be no time for that this weekend when we are all united in the rituals of patriotism, making red, white and blue a universal fashion statement and decorative motif. It is a celebration of unity that is most important in divisive times.