Wednesday, July 04, 2007

231 Years Young

I've never considered myself a particularly patriotic person, I'll admit it; but there is something magical about today that makes me a bit sentimental. So I hope you'll indulge me in a bit of non-hockey chatter on this, the birthday of our country.

I have often expressed my love for Canada and consider myself extremely lucky to have spent four years immersed in the history and culture, the traditions and people of our neighbor to the north. There wasn't a moment I regretted fleeing the safety and comfort of the place I was born to explore new things and new places. Still there was never a question of whether I would return to the States at the end of my studies, and it's nothing against my adopted country - I just missed my home.

I am something of a history junkie, and it is for that reason that I am grateful every day to have grown up in Virginia - the birthplace of so many founding fathers, one of the original thirteen colonies, and the staging ground for some of the battles that formed and re-formed our great country. For many people, touring Mount Vernon or the battlefields of the Civil War is a family vacation, something that must be planned far in advance and taken in all at once. For me, it was and remains little more than a short car ride away.

I am now lucky enough to live in Washington, DC, and I'll tell you something - you can keep your New Yorks, your Bostons, your Chicagos. In my mind nothing tops our nation's capital. We may not have the bustling nightlife or the Central Park views, the funny accents or the great sports franchises. But we have something else, and its something I can never fully put my finger on.

I just know that I feel it when I walk along the Mall, swathed in pink from the latest cherry blossoms. I feel it when I drive in over the Potomac River and get a breathtaking view of the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and the U.S. Capitol. I feel it when my bus passes the White House everyday on the way to work and I feel it when I am allowed entrance, free of charge, to view up close the treasures of the art, science and history world. This is a great place to live, a great country to live in for all its problems and neuroses, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

231 years ago today a group of men did something tantamount to treason and punishable by death - they declared that henceforth this would be an independent nation, free from the colonial grasp of the mighty British Empire. With that declaration that small group of men set in motion something that would change the course of history not only for the inhabitants of the thirteen colonies but for the rest of the modern world.

The country has since had its share of ups and downs, its wars both home and abroad, its proud moments and its shameful episodes. Yet it all really boils down to one thing: freedom. I have the freedom to sit here and write whatever I want, and if someone disagrees with me they have the right to do so without fear of retribution. I can criticize the government, practice whatever religion I want, vote for my leaders, and as I've recently discovered through personal experience, serve on a jury of my peers to help administer justice.

Now I consider myself a halfway decent writer; I can spin the odd phrase, use the occasional clever wording, and sometimes it even makes sense...but let's face it, I am no Thomas Jefferson. Of that I am absolutely certain. And so I leave you with the words that so beautifully and eloquently announced the birth of a nation:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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.

Tomorrow we resume the normal hockey discourse here in the Cheap Seats - for now I wish you all a happy, healthy and safe 4th of July.
(And to my friends north of the border? Happy Wednesday!)

Happy Birthday, America!

2 comments:

Chris & Sarah said...

Happy B-Day America

Victor said...

Cheers!