Hot dogs, parades, fireworks. Joining with friends and family to play games, feast and celebrate our country’s birthday. Maybe more so than any other day of the year, Independence Day is a patriotic holiday that facilitates community and celebrates the fundamental ideals upon which the United States of America was founded.
As I’ve thought about this holiday, I’ve been struck by how many patriotic slogans elicit a poignant relevancy for the times in which we live. In the midst of mass migrations and waves of refugees, polarizing political campaigns and overall global apprehension, these sayings offer new inspiration. These values and ideals should not be exclusive to Americans, but instead should be shared and encouraged worldwide.
Following are a few powerfully patriotic slogans that resonate with renewed meaning in 2016.
Patriotic Slogan #1: “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.” (Declaration of Independence)
The Declaration of Independence was more than just a memo to sever the political bonds of the American colonies from Britain. It was a proclamation to the world that a different paradigm of rights was not only possible, but elemental for human flourishing. The colonies themselves were a collection of people from other lands. Yes, they were immigrants, even refugees by common standards. The cause of liberty and justice was fundamental for this diverse population to thrive in harmony.
In today’s globalized world, we should take this to heart. No national borders or jurisdiction of government should be able to deprive the self-evident truths endowed by our Creator.
Patriotic Slogan #2: “…with Liberty and Justice for all.” (Pledge of Allegiance)
For years, children have learned to recite these famed words. Standing in front of a draped flag with hand on heart, we teach our students to regard with reverence the unifying ideals of our country. What has caught my attention in the context of modern times is the last clause. “… and to the Republic, for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
All means all. When we pledge allegiance to the flag, we are pledging to uphold the right of liberty of anyone and everyone. This has major implications for the way we look at the world today, especially regarding the poor and vulnerable.
Patriotic Slogan #3) “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” (Statue of Liberty)
Written on a French memorial by a Jewish immigrant and intentionally placed along the path of our country’s most renowned immigration gateway, this famous saying is both a command and a reminder. This is who we are and where we came from. We have a responsibility to uphold these values for the least of these at home and abroad.
Today, there are over 60 million people who have left their homes under duress. Where is the justice and liberty for them? If ever a population of tempest-tost masses existed in our lifetime, they are the countless refugees in search of a golden door of opportunity. And what is more American than welcoming the stranger and offering to them the unalienable rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness?
This year, as we gather with our loved ones to celebrate this wonderful country, may we be mindful of what is unique about our nation. May we remember the set of world-changing ideals that it was founded upon to never restrain liberty and justice for all.