Friday is the Fourth of July, the day we honor the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Today, however, is the anniversary of when the Continental Congress actually voted for independence from Great Britain. It took them two more days to agree on the wording of the Declaration of Independence and sign it. At that time, the war had been going on for more than a year and it wouldn’t end until 1783 when the last British troops left New York City.
I wrote this last week. I have no idea how the US Men’s National Team (Soccer, Futbol) played yesterday against Belgium in the “Sweet Sixteen” of the World Cup. I hope we won yesterday, but if we didn’t it was still a tremendous run. I also just read an opinion piece by a national columnist who said that the rising popularity of soccer in this country is a sign of our “moral decay”. If you don’t believe me, Google it. I read the entire column thinking it was satire and waiting for the punchline. It never came.
I’m not sure what that columnist was looking at, but watching the game in Recife (and earlier ones in Natal and Manaus) I saw Americans supporting our team in droves. FIFA sold more tickets to Americans than any other country except for Brazil. Our fans were painted from head-to-toe in Red, White and Blue. They wore clothes, bikinis, hats and costumes made to resemble our national flag. I saw Captain America, Bat Man, Wonder Woman and Superman at games.
There is no question our country is struggling right now. We are more polarized than we’ve been in years, but through the lens of time we forget those rough patches. Even at times when we were all pulling together for a common purpose, things weren’t always rosy. I was shocked to learn recently that there were literally hundreds of work-stoppages and labor strikes during World War II. We have endured political scandals, unpopular presidents and divisive periods. Most people think of the 1950s as a golden era for the United States, thanks to “Happy Days”, but they forget about racial segregation and the Korean War among other things.
We like to think of ourselves as scrappy, come-from-behind, never-say-die people. When things get hardest, that is when Americans are at our best. And that is when we stand up for our country and support each other. So, on this Second of July, think about what makes America a great place to live and celebrate it. I don’t see “moral decay”. I see Americans who care for our country and want to keep it the best place in the world..