The two weeks between June 19th and July 4th are the most Patriotic days of the year in the United States. July 4th is the day we celebrate the signing of the declaration of independence, our breakup letter with England back in the Colonial Days. Nevermind that it wasn’t actually signed by everybody until August sometime. People say its America’s birthday. Cool, great.
June 19th – or Juneteenth – is the observance of when federal troops were used to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. Even though the proclamation was signed in 1862, it wasn’t actually enforced locally until three years later. The first time federal troops rolled up into Texas and actually told slave owners ‘nah, son, you gotta let them go’, that’s what June 19th is celebrating. The two holidays go hand-in-hand, really. July 4th is when the first American freedoms were born; June 19th is when the least of American freedoms were finally delivered.
We’ll talk about things like the Burt Lake Burnout, Manzanar War Relocation Center, and Hutto Residential Center, another time.
But the point is, July 4th is like getting your learner’s permit when you’re 15. Juneteenth is the unrestricted license you get at 16.
I bring all of this up because patriotism is at an all-time low, and understandably. Between the increasing awareness of police crimes against their own citizens, to the staggering and unveiled corruption in the federal government, a lot of people just don’t feel like fireworks and apple pie. Some feel like the protests are unpatriotic and hurt our national pride.
But I don’t think any of these are true.
Patriotism isn’t loving a land or a government, but loving an ideal around which your nation is founded. Unswerving, unquestioning loyalty to a country no matter what is nationalism (and a bad thing). Patriotism isn’t thinking nothing is wrong with your country; it’s thinking nothing is wrong with your country that cannot be fixed by what is right with your country.
The anguish and anger people feel right now, they feel because they care. They love America. And that’s why they protest. That’s why the fight. They do it because they know America, and they know America can do better, can be better.
The most American thing there is, is holding America accountable to America’s own ideals.
Keep pushing. Keep fighting.
Because real Americans want America to be free and just for all.
Happy Birthday, America.