- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 3, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Happy birthday, Americans.

Today’s the day that faith and family, patriotism and parades, and beef, chicken and the other white meat share the stage.

Tag it divine providence, because July Fourth didn’t become our Independence Day by coincidence any more than God creating the heavens and the Earth.

Or Native Americans inhabiting what has become North America.

Or Christopher Columbus becoming an explorer.

Or John Smith landing in what is now Virginia.

Or foreigners divvying up the 13 colonies.

Or Crispus Attucks shedding his blood.

Or our Founding Fathers penning the words “When in the course of human events … .”

In the beginning, the United States was without form and void, but today, by the grace of God, it stands as the penultimate beacon.

People in lands far away and nearby - countries that American children cannot even pronounce or point out on a map - look to us for hope, freedom and liberty.

When their homelands are struck by natural disasters, people in those other lands expect Americans to come to their aid.

When natives in those other lands grow restless about the lack of liberty, they expect Americans to take a stand.

When they seek refuge from political oppression and religious persecution, they know we have always opened our arms to “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

They ask and we deliver - and often without so much as a “thank you.”

And we, red-blooded Americans, often overlook our own blessings.

Do we really think it coincidence that a European, Pierre L’Enfant, and a free black, Benjamin Banneker, laid out plans for Washington, D.C., the capital of the Free World?

Or that a Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, and a former slave shared a strident voice for freedom that eventually pitted American against American in a Great Civil War?

That Americans would shed their own blood on battlefields as close as Pearl Harbor, Cuba and Latin America and as distant as Africa, Asia and Europe in the name of freedom?

And who knew that social upheaval would manifest itself in the name of gay, black and womens rights, and that protestations at Wounded Knee, S.D., and by Latino farm workers would come to redefine America before her 200th birthday?

Glory be.

Today, we break bread with family and friends, wave miniature flags, attend parades and gather across the land to watch star-spangled skies lit not by the bombardments of war but by displays of fireworks in celebration of all things American on this nations 235th birthday.

Happy birthday, Americans. Thank our ancestors for who we are, and may God continue to bless America.

And, with all due respect to Katharine Lee Bates and Samuel A. Ward, I also say:

“Americans! Americans!

“God shed His grace on thee,

“And crown thy good with brotherhood,

“From sea to shining sea.”

Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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