The Meaning of Independence in 2011

July 4, 2011

For the past several months any time someone has mentioned the Fourth of July my mind has drifted to July 9, the upcoming date of the Republic of South Sudan’s independence. This year, I have found both celebrations–separated by 5 days and 235 years of history–particularly stirring. Witnessing the struggles of the South Sudanese people, I cannot help but feel an overwhelming sense of joy as they approach independence. Their hard-won freedom has given me an even deeper appreciation for the bravery and sacrifice of America’s Founders and patriots.

Painter John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence

And it’s not just the lead up to the new Republic of South Sudan that has me thinking a bit more extensively about meaning of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. It’s the pro-democracy protests happening all over the world right now. The sacrifices being made by men, women and children demanding governments that will secure, advance and protect their inalienable rights in places like LibyaSyria and Yemen. With current examples to draw on, the aspirations expressed in the Declaration of Independence all those years ago have come to take on new meaning.

This Fourth of July, I find it important to more firmly ground myself in American history while recognizing the history being made across the globe. The values that inspired the Founders are as universal as they are inalienable. May America continue to support and find solidarity with all people anywhere who seek to advance freedom and democracy. The United States’ commitment to these values is the only way to advance long-term national interests and truly honor the sacrifices of the past.


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