Yesterday, Americans all over celebrated the 4th of July, a holiday that represents not just the birth of this country but also all things American. At Blue Squad, the day admittedly produces a mixed set of emotions for our team. On one hand, we recognize that July 4th symbolizes the complicated history of America, but on the other hand, we would not be working at this company if we did not believe in what can only be called the American dream.
When Thomas Jefferson and other delegates from the Second Continental Congress drafted the Declaration of Independence, they knew that the words they were putting forth would have a profound impact. Remarking on the the actual vote for independence two days earlier, John Adams said:
“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.”
Aside from the actual date, Adams was absolutely correct. He and his compatriots had just ushered in a new era of human history with these simple words:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
From these simple words, the American dream was born. Here would be a country where tyrants could not scheme, where opportunity would be real, and life would be free.
It is a strange paradox, then, that such an idea could be created by men who never fully appreciated or even believed in the very rights they so proudly now declared to the world. Thomas Jefferson owned hundreds of slaves, Benjamin Franklin was only just coming around to abolition, and the voting rights for anyone that wasn’t a white man would not be seriously addressed for another century. From the very moment America was created, it was imbued with potentially fatal flaws to the realization of its own dream.
In fact, it is safe to say that what many think of the American dream today was not created with a simple pen stroke on July 4, 1776 but was instead forged through countless battles since that day. It is also safe to say that the people who have forged that dream since its inception had almost nothing in common with the dream’s creators. Instead, it was the descendants of slaves, immigrants from distant lands, women previously excluded, and others who latched onto the mantle of the American dream, refashioned it to something new, and made it their own. In truth, the process of reshaping and reforging the American dream has never stopped since that very first July 4th. Every day, a new understanding of that first American sentence “We hold these truths to be self-evident..” takes shape.
And so, we must say that July 4th is not unique in any real way. In fact, every day is the day that America is born. It is not the same America as the one born the previous day, nor will tomorrow’s America be the same as the one today. That is the beauty of this country.
So no matter what day you are reading this -- rest assured, today is the day that America was born.