Celebrating the Fourth
By Senator Bill Diamond
As we celebrate it, July 4th is about fun — fireworks, barbecues, hot dogs, music, family and friends. And yet, there is a deeper meaning behind Independence Day — a day when we recognize and remember those things that stand the test of time: honor and sacrifice, courage and perseverance, selflessness and heroism.
Today, I’d like to write about how those things have shaped us from then until now.
Generations of historians have continually reminded us that our independence was not foreordained. We fought through some of the harshest winters we have ever known, faced great military disadvantages and struggled to keep morale up. Many wondered if the fight was worth it; if freedom mattered; and if Thomas Jefferson’s words were nothing more than empty poetry. Yet, we marched forward. George Washington and our other Founding Fathers never gave up. We, in America, struggled to be the authors of our own destiny, and in the end we did gain our independence. Seven years after the Declaration of Independence was written, after countless battles and deaths and shivering, unforgiving nights, a peace treaty was signed in Paris, giving us here in America what we always wanted, a chance to do things our way.
That legacy of success, that legacy of courage, that legacy of strength has lived on. President Thomas Jefferson returned to its spirit when deciding to expand our country’s borders with the Louisiana Purchase. President Andrew Jackson returned to its spirit when refusing to let the whims of South Carolina’s politicians tear our union apart. President Abraham Lincoln returned to its spirit when he reexamined what the phrase all men are created equal really meant. President Franklin D. Roosevelt returned to its spirit when he reminded us that, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” President John F. Kennedy returned to its spirit when he reminded us, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” President Lyndon B. Johnson returned to its spirit when he imagined the possibilities of a Great Society. And Ronald Reagan returned to its sprit when he said, “America is too great for small dreams.”
Our greatest politicians and our greatest leaders have always returned to our independence and all that came with it for a reason; it was a time filled with people who never became hopeless, who carried with them hopeful hearts, who personified what hope is all about. I write all of this because of how easy it is to forget their lessons on this day. We should enjoy the grill, and the spectacle of fireworks, and our chats, debates about this local politician or that federal politician, this local policy or that new government program. We should enjoy being Americans on this day. But at some point, in our own solitude, let’s remember how we got to where we are; what it took to have this day; and why it is that being an American is such a special honor.
If you have any problems with the state or if there is anything I can do for you, please contact me. You can reach me at my office at the State House at 287-1515 or visit my website, www.mainesenate.org/diamond to send me an e-mail. Thank you and have a wonderful July 4th holiday.
Senator Bill Diamond is a resident of Windham, and serves the District 12 communities of Casco, Frye Island, Raymond, Standish, Windham and Hollis.