The ideas presented by the founders – debated, argued, and finally articulated in the Declaration of Independence in 1776 – were not just meant for the people of that century. They were meant for all who would come after them. They stand as an idea, not as something that has been enshrined into existence. The American Revolution continues, through every age.
Every child born into the new country would have their own personal American Revolution; a discovery of freedom, responsibility, identity, and voice. An exploration of what “all men are created equal” means – and the fight to make it a reality for all Americans in every generation.
Every immigrant coming to the new nation, doffing their old identity to take on a new one is – as historian Alan Taylor points out – reenacting the American Revolution. Putting off the old for something new, freeing, and wide open with opportunity. We must fight to make America a land of opportunity for all, not just for a few.
The work of Independence – imbued by the spirit of Revolution – is never done. The America of 1787 left millions of Americans enslaved, saw thousands of Native Americans hunted off their lands, and left millions of Americans without a political voice at the ballot box – while at the same time ushering in a revolutionary form of governance that created space for all those wrongs to be righted. It is up to us to right the wrongs, in every generation. Otherwise, the revolution was for nothing.
However you spend this Independence Day, never forget our responsibility to carry the torch of the American Revolution just a little bit farther, closer and closer to the dream of a more perfect union that the United States of America can be.