In the midst of a pandemic, sometimes it’s hard to tell what week, much less month we’re in. Holidays in particular become very different. However, the calendar and the temperatures outside both affirmed Saturday as the 4th of July, Independence Day, the commemoration of the signing of one of the most radical manifestos ever written, the Declaration of Independence.
The courage and, quite frankly, hubris of our founding fathers to declare themselves and their thirteen colonies free of the British Crown (“Absolved from all Allegiance”) when they had no real army and were facing the largest and most militarily strong empire in the world at that time almost takes your breath away. And, after seven long, bloody and always uncertain years, that independence was formalized in the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783 (my birthday, although I came along a few years later…).
“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.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
The power and audacity of those lines remains striking to this day. So does the irony.
To properly honor our great but flawed country’s celebration of its independence, it bears reflection on not just how far we’ve come in the past 244 years but also on how far we still must travel.
We have much work to do as a country and as a Y to fulfill our potential, to recognize all people as actually created equal and fully permitted the pursuit of happiness, without exception.
If our Declaration of Independence is to have real meaning to all Americans, then we all must embrace the fact that Black lives matter.
At the Y in Central Maryland, we celebrate Independence Day while we continue to strive for “a more perfect union.” I invite all who wish to participate in that effort to join us. We need you.
All the best,
John K. Hoey
President & CEO
The Y in Central Maryland