Saturday, July 4, 2015

Celebrating Independence

Today, on the 4th of July, we celebrate our country's independence from Britain, back in 1776. We have red, white and blue parties with family and friends, we barbecue and we have colorful and loud fireworks. It's a joyful holiday, a great day of celebration.

Sadly, some Americans seem to be unaware what we are celebrating.

photo by Robert Bartz

A couple days ago I saw a video in which random people on their way to the beach were interviewed about Independence Day. Some of the "highlights":

Question: Who did we gain our independence from?

- I don't know.
- The South.  - At the end of the Civil War? - Yes, from the South.
- Those countries.
And my personal favorite:
- From California. (oh yeah, baby)

Question: Who signed the Declaration of Independence?

- I don't know. Abraham Lincoln? - And when was that? - 1964? - 19... - 1984! (Perhaps it was George Orwell then....)

Question: Who were the Founding Fathers of our country?

- Silence.

Where the Declaration of Independence was written. Photo by Robert Bartz

While reading this, you probably cringe just as I did when I watched that video. And of course this is not representative for all Americans. But it made me wonder why I as an immigrant have to pass the citizenship test when I wish to become a US citizen. Perhaps natural born Americans should take that test as well.

Especially politicians. No, I am not elaborating on this. You certainly have made up your mind about that and so have I.

Gaining independence is a huge step for any country. For me, the most important part of independence is freedom. Let freedom ring - but so often I feel it's the freedom for one group, but not for the other. Freedom ends where it limits the freedom of others. That is a given. Freedom involves responsibility - a lot of it. Freedom without responsibility is not freedom for all, but just freedom for "Me". Freedom is something we have to work for every single day - by giving it to others and keeping it for ourselves.

Freedom is something wonderful that we so often take for granted. It is the greatest good in our country - and many others. Truly a reason to celebrate.


Elephant's Child said...

Thank you.
A reasoned and heartfelt post. Freedom and its concurrent responsibilities are often underestimated.

Monika + Bente said...

Viel Spaß beim Feiern !

Liebe Grüße - Monika

Nancy Chan said...

Hi Carola, thank you for this interesting post about independence and freedom. Freedom is never for all in any one country no matter how much they tried. But then again, the world has never been an equal or a fair world. We thank those all over the world who continue to fight for freedom and equality for all!

Laurie said...

Beautifully said!

Amanda said...

Beautiful and heartfelt post Carola. I do feel like you and am so grateful to live in this beautiful country! Happy Independence day!

GreenComotion said...

You have made some very important points, Carola - Thank you!
Freedom is the most important thing that one can ever attain.
Happy 4th!
Have a Beautiful Day!
Peace :)

Unknown said...

Hallo Carola :)
Du, das Problem gibt es hier auch,
kein Jugendlicher weiß wer Kaiser
Wilhelm war oder Konrad Adenauer
oder der Dicke mit der Zigarre.
Allerdings fehlt mir die Info, was
unsere Ausländer können müssen, um
Deutsche zu werden. Deutsch jedenfalls
schon mal nicht ;)

Hoffe, ihr habt schön gefeiert und
den Tag genossen :))

Liebe Grüße
Tinna ✐

Darla said...

Well said Carola. I think that sometimes people who have to work for something (citizenship in this case) place more value on it than people for whom it is a given.


John's Island said...

Hi Carola, Thank you for stopping by my blog yesterday and your kind comment. It was good to see you! I am a natural born citizen of USA and I totally hear what you are saying about the lack of knowledge of our country by other citizens born here. Perhaps at some point in life we should have to take the same test required of immigrants in order to “lock in” all of our benefits and rights as citizens. My guess is the citizens who can’t tell you what Independence Day is all about are the same ones who do know all the details about how to claim their Social Security benefits when they need them. Maybe I shouldn’t be so pessimistic but lately I keep seeing examples that remind me half of the population is on the left side of the bell curve when it comes to intelligence. Thank you for sharing this excellent post.

Gill - That British Woman said...

Just the same here in Canada!!! We had too pass a test also to become citizens!

gina said...

A wonderful post for our Independence Day -- lovely images. I agree that with freedom comes responsibility. Many folks want freedom for themselves, but not others. It's so sad that so many of our citizens seem ignorant of the history of our country and what it stands for.

Magic Love Crow said...

I am not American, I am Canadian, but I still think it's so sad, that people don't know their own country! I hope you had a great holiday!

Cheri said...

Very interesting post Carola! I am a natural born citizen of the USA. I know the difference between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. I know what was being fought for in each war. These are things we are all taught in grade school but I think a lot of kids forget these facts immediately after they are taught. There are days that I think the right to vote should come with a test - that shows at least basic understanding of the voting process and knowledge of who the candidates are and what they believe in (not that it would stop them from changing their minds). I think it is truly sad that my friends in other countries are better versed in American politics than some of my friends that live here and vote! And I'm all for making people take a test to qualify for all the benefits this country offers. Maybe then we'd have a little more patriotism...

Felicia said...

alot of Americans have no clue.

I like your insights.

Anonymous said...

Pithy, pointed, and right on target, Carola. I hope you and your family had a wonderful Independence Day holiday!

Jeanne said...

I have also recently heard some pretty shocking comments similar... At the Lincoln memorial in Washington DC, some kids were walking up to this huge monument ahead of us and were asking what this significance of this guy was in history. I was shocked. What do people learn in school/???