Celebrating Immigration Day

Celebrating Immigration Day

As I stood before the grocery case pondering what I’d put on the grill this Fourth of July, I noticed how much my options were tied to the immigrants that made America great. I considered brats, Italians, Polish, chorizo, or maybe ground pork for that Korean recipe I have. These have become the staples of Independence Day celebrations.

I enjoy starting my Fourth of July with a reading of the Declaration of Independence. It has been an annual tradition on National Public Radio (NPR) for many years, and its reading is enriched by the diversity of correspondents who read this foundational document. I find it unfortunate that the reading of the Declaration of Independence often signals the end of serious reflection of what it means to be “We the people.” Many of the other celebratory activities focus on the strength of the United States military, military veterans, or are just an excuse to have a party. I find this an awkward hijacking of the point of Independence Day; it diminishes the meaning of Independence Day, Veterans Day, and Memorial Day.

This Independence Day, our government has chosen to focus on demonizing immigrants, limiting Civil Rights, and alienating our allies. The people who we once relied on (and often took advantage of) to make America great are being held in detention camps. At the same time, the Executive Branch of our government is pursuing economic warfare against much of the world on the premise that free trade is a threat to “national security.” Somehow, this abandonment of American ideals is tied to national security as well. It is always a worthwhile exercise to reflect on this nation of immigrants and the ideals that made America great. That exercise seems even more important as we celebrate Independence Day this Fourth of July. It is both ironic and frightening to see that the freedoms that were once a magnet for so many of our families are now seen as a threat to national security.

The most memorable sections of the Declaration of Independence are a great reminder of the high ideals this nation of immigrants is based upon. They are worthy of serious reflection. Independence Day is a great day to honor the immigrants who founded this country and made America great. They are are our mothers and fathers, the slaves who were brought here as nothing but property, and those fleeing tyranny in their countries of origin.

An excerpt from the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.