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From every mountainside, Let freedom ring!

Mount Diablo View from Summit

I happened to see the lyrics of the song “America” that we sang in grade school, but which is also known as “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” on a poster on the wall of an elementary school this year. At the time, I thought, “How long has it been since I thought about that song?”

This blog entry is not about that song, with lyrics written by Samuel Francis Smith in 1831 and with melody derived from the British National Anthem, “God Save the Queen,” but about the country, on its birthday today, July 4, 2008.

What makes the United States of America (USA) truly great, and what do I love most about her?


The experiment in democracy (a word and concept derived from ancient Greece) known as the USA, like other experiments in democracy, is an ongoing experiment. The most surprising thing to me about our experiment in democracy is the foresight of the founders of the USA in framing a Constitution that has endured so well, and which has served as a model for the constitutions of some other countries. I distinctly remember seeing the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence in the National Archives, as a child. The experience left an indelible impression upon me. I think that the endurance of the Constitution would make the founders proud, but I am equally as certain that many of the modern assaults (more like the incremental erosions of sieges) on individual liberties specified in the Bill of Rights would make the founders active in the defense of those liberties.

I think about the USA in some of her finest hours: in fighting alongside Allies in the liberation of Europe from the Nazis, in providing safe haven and opportunities for waves of immigrants that enriched this country with their collective knowledge and experiences and cultures, and in providing humanitarian aid worldwide, to those in need.

I also think about the fact that assaults on the freedoms of individuals can destroy great countries from within, whether in the name of “safety” or “security” or “convenience.”

As we move ahead as a nation in this 21st century, let us remember to cherish and to retain those virtues of our freedoms that we have exhibited to others in our finest hours.

Happy Birthday, USA!

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™




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