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Democracy and freedom go hand-in-hand

As you celebrate the Fourth of July holiday this Thursday with your loved ones, keep in mind the historic nature of this day and what it means to every citizen of this great nation.

1776 marks the beginning of a nation unlike any other in the long history of civilizations. Yes, the Athenians had a form of Democracy, but their version did not provide the freedoms and liberties that ours does. And only a certain class of Athenian-born men was actually able to vote.

And while this nation has not always lived up to the ideals of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, the violations of equality and freedom have been vigorously fought in the political arena and, for the most part, rectified.

Every nation has a founding day that it celebrates with parties and festivities, and many nations now celebrate legitimate “independence days” because at some point during the past 243 years they have emulated the system of government established in 1776 in the United States of America.

In the USA, individual liberty takes precedence even above the legitimate interest of the state, at least in the Constitution. The aristocratic elite of the world always enjoyed these liberties, but this nation extended those freedoms and rights to all people.

For much of our nation’s history, women and minorities were excluded from participating in the process of self-governance, but as we have become a more enlightened people, we have brought everyone to the table of freedom. This table is filled with the rarest delicacies (freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the right to assemble, a fair trial by one’s peers) and the sweetest treats (voting for the candidate of your choice, the ability to pursue your dreams and make your own place in society) – yours to enjoy, savor or reject, as you see fit.

Every American can pull up a comfortable seat to this bountiful table to enjoy the fruit of this great land now, not just the elite or just the members of certain ethnic distinctions.

The table’s legs are constructed from the finest material – the Declaration of Independence. The round tabletop is beautifully detailed with designs that seem simple until you delve deeper to find abstraction and fluidity that, paradoxically, give rise to steadfast permanence – the Constitution. The centerpiece for this richly complex table is the American Flag – looking even more beautiful today than it did when it was first made during the War for Independence.

Our nation is more beautiful today because more people can participate freely and openly. In fact, this nation is on the ascension because it is more inclusive with each generation – more tolerant of fresh ideas and new ways of looking at what liberty means.

We’ll celebrate the Fourth of July with food and fellowship, but as you enjoy the company of your loved ones and the repast before you, take a moment to remember that love for this nation need not be the mindless adherence to proscribed sets of behaviors.

Major changes in this nation’s history always tend toward greater freedom and more liberty, which may be viewed suspiciously by those who find change difficult to accept, but which makes our nation stronger because we are all participants and because we all have a real stake in ensuring the success of the grand experiment.

So celebrate the Fourth in your own style and in your own way and with those you want to be with, remembering all the while that it is your decision to do so because you are a citizen of the USA.

We can respect other nations and we can honor other cultures, but let’s state the truth for a change – this is the greatest nation on Earth and we’re the greatest people.

Have fun on Thursday exercising your freedom, but please be mindful of your safety and the safety of others.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252.332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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