I was not yet living in America when on August 28, 1963, a young preacher in Atlanta named Martin Luther King Jr., uttered the following words:
“When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. . . . I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’
Dr. King was hopeful that “this nation would someday rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed.” Yes, he had a dream but do we really know how much ofthis dream he really believed would happen someday? We will never know. However, that someday is here; it is now. This young nation rose up three years ago and elected a black President with the name Barack Hussein Obama. I hope Dr. King was looking down and smiling as Mr. Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America.
We are now a maturing nation. Many years have passed since the Declaration of Independence was written on a piece of paper and signed by some very insightful men. Since then, we have overcome a lot of our shortcomings; we are very close to understanding our true identity and our unique place in history every single day. Although not perfect, we are as close to being perfect as we can be.
To many of our fellow citizens, Independence Day is a day to have a family get-together,spend a day around the barbecue or on the beach and have a nice one day holiday culminating in a wonderfully presented fire-works display at the end of the day. Unfortunately, many young people today are unaware of the reason why we celebrate Independence Day every year on the 4th of July. That is a real shame.
So, on the eve of this very important celebration of a day in our nation’s history, I decided to reminisce as a first generation immigrant who came to this country at the age of 20, with dreams, expectations and hopes.
Some years ago, I read the biography of John Adams, the first Vice President and second President of the United States. In this biography, there was a passage from a letter Adams wrote to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776 on the eve of the Declaration of Independence. “I am well aware ofthe toil, and blood, and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the rays of light and glory; I can see that the end is more than worth all the means, and that posterity will triumph.” I was very impressed with these words and I still am. American idealism and exceptionalism could not have been expressed in any better words many years before America turned out to be the leader of the free world.
Today, as we watch the events taking place in the Middle East and Africa where one despot after another is falling in front of a wave of humanity searching for their “freedom,” one cannot help but think about the prophetic words of Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John Adams dated September 12, 1821; “The flames kindled on the4th of July 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them.” I wonder if Mr. Jefferson knew when he wrote these words almost 200 years ago that there would be despots like Moammar Kaddafi, Basher al-Assad or Hosni Mubarak who would be trying to extinguish the flames of freedom today. Perhaps not but those words sure come to mind as we watch, hear and read the news today.
With the Declaration of Independence came “freedom” to America and that is what we should all be celebrating on this Independence Day Holiday on the 4th of July. We have many of our finest young men and women in uniform spread all around the world defending us and our freedoms, hoping to free others from the clutches of despotsand dictators. The common expression “freedom is not free” rings true every time I pick up a newspaper and read about the death of another young soldier, marine, pilot or a sailor in a foreign land. I take great pride in being an American; I take great pride in understanding the true meaning of the Declaration of Independence and I feel great to have had the opportunity to start and grow my new family in this great nation.
Ronald Reagan, one of the greatest Presidents to serve the people in the White House said it best during his address at Yorktown on October 19, 1981; “Our Declaration of Independence has been copied by emerging nations around the globe, its themes adopted in places many of us have never heard of. Here in this land, for the first time, it was decided that man is born with certain God-given rights. Wethe people declared that government is created by the people for their own convenience. Government has no power except those voluntarily granted it by the people. There have been revolutions before and since ours, revolutions that simply exchanged one set of rulers for another. Ours was a philosophical revolution that changed the very concept of government.”
This Independence Day Holiday on July 4th, 2011, my only wish is for all Americans, regardless of race, creed and color to stop for a moment and thank all those who made us a free nation by declaring our independence from a despot King; who fought to preserve that freedom in faraway places and those who are willingly giving their lives today to make sure we can live another day in a free America as free Americans.
Happy Independence Day and God Bless America…
Currently a member of Marco Island’s Code Enforcement Board, Tarik Ayasun has given many years of community service to various organizations.