Let Freedom Ring!
The Fourth of July is the quintessential American summer holiday,celebrated across the United States with parades, backyard barbeques, picnics, and fireworks. It’s a day that commemorates the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation, but this year’s festivities are going to look a little different, with people staying home and refraining from traveling or gathering in large groups.
America celebrated its liberation 244 years ago, and we’re still writing the story of freedom to this day. In the midst of a movement that is calling for increased awareness and transformative action to combat racial injustice and systemic corruption, it is clear that there is still a lot of work to be done. Juneteenth commemorated the day on which ALL Americans were finally liberated almost a century later, and this year, the holiday sparked a lot of social discourse about how we actually define freedom. We’re in the middle of a pandemic and there have been discussions on what the exercise of our freedom looks like when mask orders and social distancing parameters are being enforced. So what does independence, and Independence Day, truly mean in 2020?
Although many may uphold the idea that independence means having the ability to act without constraint, this is only one half of the coin. Independence means being able to make decisions and provide for yourself without depending on someone else, and freedom is the right to have your own beliefs and pursue self-interests without infringing on anyone else’s right to do the same. Our freedom does not allow us to discriminate against others, nor does it permit endangering other people’s health for our own individualism. Freedom and independence come with the qualifier that exercising your own liberties does not take away from someone else’s, and unfortunately that is the mark that is missed by so many.
In a time when these rights are not equally given to everyone in present-day America, it is up to us to uplift those who are not fully experiencing the liberty that the American identity hinges upon. Our freedom is not freedom until everyone is truly free, and celebrating America means celebrating the people that make up America. For this Fourth of July, let’s celebrate independence by grilling out at home, setting off fireworks while social distancing, and wearing masks along with our red, white, and blue. We can also continue exercising our freedom by signing petitions, registering to vote, and speaking out against injustice. After all, just as the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia sounds thirteen times every year on July 4th in honor of the original thirteen colonies, letting freedom ring is the American way.