Freedom and the 4th
images of the 4th
Celebrating the 4th
My son, an 11 year old with a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome asked me as we were enjoying our time off this holiday weekend to explain what the 4th of July means. He knows about the signing of the Declaration of Independence and Thomas Jefferson and the freedom of the American colonies from British rule back in 1776 from his history lessons in school. As he began to explain these facts to me I commended him and then asked him why ask me this question if you already know the answer.
He proceeded to say that what he learned in school happened 234 years ago and it is a testament to the framers of the declaration that our independence has stood for all these years but what he also did not understand was the very definition of independence. He asked me that if we are truly independent as a whole then why throughout history was their prejudice and civil rights issues that divided this country. Why was there slavery and why did civil rights leaders have to fight for their own freedoms when the Declaration clearly stated that all men are created equal. As he asked me this I first had to gather myself as he really impressed me with such an insightful and remarkable question that made the very meaning of independence seem like a contradiction.
I had to really think for a moment how best to answer his question in a way that would address such complicated issues and human nature in a simplistic way. As I thought about it I started to realize that our country has always had the right ideas and good intentions but it seems that we as a people put our trust and faith in elected officials who make decisions for us. We have freedoms by electing officials to positions of power in government and we believe that they will do right by us as a whole. It seems that our nation's people may have put the power in the hands of the wrong people on occasion in years past and that is why our country has taken a step back in our current day and why throughout history we have had inequality and human rights issues, economic crisis, depressions, social inequity, escalating medical costs, unemployment and poverty that have come to the forefront. As a reader of American history during my school years I have come to realize that of the presidents elected to office throughout history not all of them were revered as leaders that made our country stronger and better. I believe that the presidents with the most influence and right ideas that helped our country go in the right direction were: 1) Abraham Lincoln, 2) Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 3) George Washington, 4)Thomas Jefferson, 5) Harry S. Truman, 6) Theodore Roosevelt, 7) Woodrow Wilson, 8) Dwight Eisenhower, 9) John Adams, and 10) John F. Kennedy. This list is my personal opinion based on reading their historical backgrounds and the influence they had in their administrations.
In answering my son's question I did not get as specific but I wanted him to know our political process and how officials are elected to office and how we as a people entrust them to make the right decisions. We don't have a crystal ball to know always how things will play out but we hope that as a whole that congress will stand on merit in addressing the major issues and act accordingly in doing the right thing as a form of checks and balances so the President does not have sole power. I told him that for things to run properly everyone has to come together in unity and truly believe in what is right and act upon it and that is what the framers of the declaration did in 1776 and that is what our current leaders have to do today as well.
As I explained this to him he understood and thanked me for explaining it in terms that he understood and I thanked him for asking me such a relevant and thought provoking question. I believe we both learned a valuable lesson on this 4th of July.
Edward D. Iannielli III