I spent some time last night wandering the wild lands of the internet, searching for inspiration, answers, clues, guides, insight into this nation of the United States of America. It is July 4th, our Independence Day. This year, it feels perhaps more poignant than ever to stop and consider what indeed makes up the character and fabric of our country. What do we stand for? What do we live for? What do we hope for?
In my fall down the Google rabbit hole, I found these quotes; some from the USA’s Founding Fathers, others from the wise and enduring women who accompanied them, or arrived later in our nation’s history.
- “Those who expect to reap the benefits of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” — Thomas Paine
- “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” — Thomas Jefferson
- “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
- “If we mean to have heroes, statesmen and philosophers, we should have learned women.” — Abigail Adams
- “I beg it may be remembered by every gentleman in the room that I this day declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with.” — George Washington
- “If we do not lay out ourselves in the service of mankind whom should we serve?” — Abigail Adams
We have largely mythologized the men and women who laid the foundation for the United States, and it’s easy to grab your favorite quote, post it to your preferred social media account, and uphold it as gospel when considering what it means to be an American citizen. But in the course of my research last night, I found too many instances to note here when the Founding Fathers warned that liberty, freedom, and a healthy republic were not alone guaranteed by the founding documents and principles upon which a nation is built. Rather, it requires the resilience and fortitude and ceaseless education of that nation’s people, to work every day toward its continued survival.
I love this country and I am proud to be called a citizen of this country. But, as ever, we the people reflect the state of our nation. So, on this 241st anniversary of the United States’ founding, I believe it is important to rededicate ourselves — each and every one of us — to the mission of carrying on. Let us not succumb to fatigue or weariness of spirit. There is beauty and strength and so much goodness to find in these united states, but we must all bear witness to that beauty, and hone in on that strength, and contribute as much goodness as we can, to maintain the essential character of our beloved nation.
Happy Fourth of July.
SIGNED, anya elise