On July 4th, people all over the United States celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, a document that is composed of our highest ideals and our core beliefs. My love for this country is rooted in my appreciation for the values forever engraved in that paper, a hallmark of America’s history. On July 4th, I celebrate freedom, equality, justice, individuality, and expression.
On this day, I feel both patriotic and critical of my country, because Americans are unfortunately known for being the biggest hypocrites. We champion human rights but don’t speak up for Rohingya Muslims who are being slaughtered in Myanmar. We pat ourselves on the back on the anniversary of Juneteenth, but we refuse to admit that we are customers of companies notorious for human trafficking. We take pride in the 13th Amendment but continue to imprison colored people and make them labor for us in jail. We love our guns but are hesitant to help mental health patients who could potentially inflict harm on others.
America has its faults- numerous faults. But we have the luxury to change things. When I take time to look around, I realize how lucky we are. We are lucky enough to love our country so much that we can criticize it. We have the luxury to fight for it. We live in a country where we can demand our elected leaders to respect all citizens. In America, no one’s voice can be silenced. In this country, we can march for gender equality, an end to police brutality, and policy action to combat climate change. In this country, I can write my thoughts freely, pray to Allah, pursue higher education, and donate to support a coalition of organizations that work throughout the US to provide services to immigrants, refugees, and asylees (https://prizeo.com/r/yaccfc).
I will forever be honored to be an American. I am one by birth, but everyone around me (my best friend who was born in Burma and currently works three jobs to pay for college, my dad who immigrated here from Bangladesh right after graduating high school, my 11-year-old cousin who wants to be the leader of the free world one day, and my mom who went to go see fireworks even with her broken wrist) is just as American as I am.
I see so much beauty around me. I am surrounded by people from so many cultures with so many dreams, all taking part in this great American experiment of ours. There is beauty in the struggle and in the resistance required of us as Americans. Let’s do right by the words written in those bold, cursive letters on that July day. Let’s do right by every American who has come before us.
Can you believe that we’ve come full circle? In those July days, the founders in that sweaty room in Philadelphia (a room I’ve stepped foot in) were bold enough to draft a formal list of complaints and grievances against a tyrannical king. In these July days, we are seeing profound resistance to our current administration, one that can be deemed unjust and unfair in many ways. The founders, revolutionaries of the heart, came out on top. If history taught us anything, it’s that we are in trying times and radical times. We are changemakers. I sit here now in anticipation of the inevitable change we will enact, together as Americans, to better our beloved country and in effect, our shared world.
March on, my fellow country people.
This article was also published on Medium:
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