Dwight A. Moody
The annual July 4th holiday is a good occasion to put politics aside and celebrate all that is good and great about our country. Such reflection is good for the soul and is good for the society, especially during these times of division.
This year I celebrate the constitution that enumerates the basic freedoms of each and every American: such as the freedom to worship; to assemble ourselves in celebration or protest; to express our convictions in newspapers, blogs, books, radio and television, and posts of all kinds; to have the presumption of innocence and the right to privacy; to have access to due process, legal counsel, courtroom juries, just compensation, and the right to silence; and to be free of excessive bail as well as cruel and unusual punishment.
I celebrate the beautiful land we occupy, filled with rivers and mountains, lakes and plains, and natural wonders that continue to stir the imagination, many of them protected as state and national parks: places such as the Blue Ridge Parkway, Gettysburg Battlefield, Smithsonian Institution, Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountains, Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill, Key West, and the coastlines along the east, west, and southern borders.
I celebrate the plethora of communities that populate our nation, filled with civic pride and led by people who love their neighbors and love their country, including places where I have lived: Lexington, Louisville, Owensboro, and Murray in Kentucky, the metropolitan centers of St. Louis and Pittsburgh; the rural community of Holton, Indiana and the island paradise of St. Simons, Georgia.
I celebrate the heritage of volunteerism that makes our country so unique, drawing people together in more than one and a half million non-profit organizations: to advocate for causes, support communities and institutions, teach attitudes and skills, build friendships and partnerships, play games and sing songs, and elect public servants.
I celebrate the world of sport, from the Little League of baseball to the Olympic athletes who compete on the world stage; and I give a shout-out to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Kentucky Wildcats, and the growing network of croquet players, including my club on Jekyll Island.
I celebrate the universe of imagination that publishes books and magazines, composes music, writes plays, distributes movies, stages festivals, adorns canvases, brick walls, and tee-shirts, and builds networks of artists, organizations, and venues for the whole world to enjoy, and learn, and grow.
I celebrate the innovative and entrepreneurial energy that pushes our country forward, dreaming, inventing, launching, and transforming, building products and businesses that unleash potential, create wealth, employ people, and meet human need around the world.
I celebrate these organizations that have blessed my life and whose mission I endorse: the American Bible Society, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Salvation Army, the National Park Service, the American Film Institute, the Academy of Preachers, and Summer’s Best Two Weeks.
Of course, many things about America embarrass me; and here I mention our treatment of native Americans and African Americans from the first day right down to today; our attitude toward immigrants including the current broad-based campaign to stifle the hopes and dreams of people coming to American from all corners of the globe; our delay in granting women and homosexuals basic human rights, like the right to live, work, vote, marry, lead and even preach; our legal and political preference for the wealthy and powerful instead of the small, the weak, and the poor; the too many jails, prisons, and penitentiaries that incarcerate the poor and protect the rich; and our toleration of rude, crude, and ungodly behavior in both word and deed, in public and in private.
Nevertheless, I love our land, our people, and our values. I treasure our history and anticipate our future. I celebrate all the places and people of our great nation: university professors and hamburger cooks, railroad engineers and country singers, book sellers, choir directors, and small town mayors; preachers and poets and prophets with the verbal dexterity to tell it like it is and like it ought to be; men pouring concrete and women selling curtains; children setting up lemonade stands and their parents saving money to open their own store; nurses changing the dressing on wounds and pilots flying us to where we want to go; street artists working for a dollar and inventors dreaming of millions; bankers and bakers and baseball players. It is a wonderful cacophony of human struggle and success.
Nowhere in recent years have I found a city so representative of America than Houston, Texas: famous for both rodeo and opera; home to the most diverse demographic of any metropolitan city in the country and thus able to elect a lesbian as mayor; survivor of a powerful hurricane and winner of a World Series in the same twelve month span; headquarters of major energy corporations and home to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration which led our nation to its most astounding accomplishment of the last half century (the space program); and situated as the front porch of American hospitality, making space for the waves of Latinas seeking life, liberty, and happiness in the place we call home.
For all of this and so much more, I give thanks to God and pledge my allegiance to the United States of America.