America has come far in its 244 years, but fight for freedoms continues
“The second day of July 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
That quote comes from a letter written by one of America’s founding fathers, John Adams, to his wife, Abigail. It’s a powerful comment, and filled with a good amount of foresight (a skill that President Adams developed throughout his life), but it is just slightly off from the reality today.
Back in 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence on July 2, thus beginning the domino effect by legally separating the 13 original colonies from Great Britain. But Americans have always clung to July 4 as our Independence Day; not because President Adams is incorrect in the facts as they were, but because the Fourth was when the Declaration of Independence, penned by Thomas Jefferson, was signed and approved by that same congressional body.
Why is this trip through time important, you may ask? For one thing, I find it kind of amusing that even back then, holidays were so revered by government officials. Maybe it was a statement from Adams on how a good politician is one that is distracted and not so involved in the lives of the people. But it’s more likely that President Adams recognized the profound impact such a unified act of revolution would have on not only the lives of its citizens, but also the world around it. Considering how forward-thinking the man was, I’m inclined to believe in the latter.
The men who laid the foundation for our way of life today absolutely deserve celebration and reverence, if not every day, then today especially. But, with every passing year, and with the progress and growth our nation goes through, those same men making those same decisions come into question and under scrutiny. This year more than any other, I find myself reflecting on what 244 years of fighting for independence, for liberty and for freedom does for us as a people, as a nation and as a world. And during this time, I wanted to share my thoughts with you on what I feel like these 244 years have done for us all.
It’ll be no surprise to my friends and family that I revere and love my country, and all it has given me and every other citizen. The ability for a people to self-govern and organize based on each community’s wants and needs, while still upholding the standards of democracy and liberty for their neighbors is a worthwhile quality any nation worth its salt should be striving toward. As a matter of fact, whenever I’ve approached policy being debated or voted on, I’ve always kept the Founding Fathers and their unifying principles of liberty as my guiding star when making decisions. I trust it’s what every American wants.
But in today’s climate, one can’t really look back as fondly as one might have not even ten years ago. Through the work of historians, activists and my fellow representatives, we are reminded day after day that despite the good work done by those who have come before, there is always more work to do. Bodies of government need to act more diligently in the best interest of their citizens, representatives and peacekeepers need to work alongside their communities more harmoniously, and the written law still has some ways to go before providing true tranquility and equality for all peoples. Yes, America has come very far and laid the groundwork for a whirlwind of progress across the world, but progress never stops.
I’m proud of the progress this country has made. I’m proud of the progress this country continues to make. I’m proud to serve as a representative for the 139th District, to follow in the footsteps of the great men who came before us and to continue to fight for the freedoms and liberties of the citizens of this great country.
This Independence Day, I encourage you to reflect on what it took to get us here, and thank those who fought for every freedom and liberty that you have today. And on a closing note, take a moment to think about what still needs to be fought for today. There may be a person 200 years down the road thanking you for the same thing you’re thanking the Founding Fathers for today.
Assemblyman Steve Hawley
(Hawley represents the 139thAssembly District which includes most of Orleans, all of Genesee and part of western Monroe counties.)