Yes, America is worth celebrating! Happy Independence Day

The greatest country in the history of the world is about to have its birthday, but some people won’t be celebrating. Their mistake.

On Thursday, the U.S. marks her 248th Independence Day. It’s the anniversary of when colonists broke away from Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence speaks of “unalienable rights” given by a creator. Government’s purpose is to “secure these rights” and should derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

It’s long been a day for fireworks, parades and other festivities. But in recent years, many people aren’t participating.

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“I’m a black American – here’s why I’m not celebrating the 4th of July,” a recent Reader’s Digest headline states.

Last year, The New York Times wrote about Americans who “are conflicted about celebrating the Fourth of July.” In 2022, Yahoo covered those who “aren’t celebrating the 4th of July.” In 2021, USA Today detailed people who were “ambivalent about celebrating July 4.”

Polling data suggests this attitude is a trend. Last year, Gallup found just 39% of adults said they were “extremely proud” to be an American. When combined with those “very proud,” the number increased to 67%. That’s a near record low. Among Democrats and young Americans, the numbers are dire. Just 29% of Democrats said they were in the “extremely proud” group. Among Democrats under 35, it was just 12%.

That’s a slow-moving crisis that’s much deeper than who wins the next election.

But there are many reasons to love America. Start with this. As a general principle, it’s good for people to be proud of their country. Individuals don’t just float through life like atoms occasionally bumping into other individual atoms. People need connection. Not having that is why Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned of an “epidemic of loneliness” last year.

“The lack of social connection poses a significant risk for individual health and longevity,” a report from his office warned.

The most important connections are with your family, church or religious group and local community. But your country matters. National pride helps provide a baseline level of unity between different families and community groups, too.

Some may agree that celebrating a country is good in principle. They just don’t want to celebrate this one. Common complaints include slavery and the Jim Crow era.

This is wrong for two reasons.

First, think about the last birthday party you were invited to. Did you refuse to go because the person wasn’t perfect? Of course not. All humans, aside from one who lived 2,000 years ago, have flaws and failures. You celebrate a person on their birthday. You don’t nitpick their faults.

Second, the U.S. is incredible. We enjoy freedom, opportunities and luxuries most people could never have dreamed of. It’s why people risk their lives to come here.

Our military saved the world during World War II. We’ve used our military muscle not to conquer the globe but to protect shipping lanes and trade. That’s helped usher in an unprecedented decline of global poverty. Americans invented the airplane, air conditioning and television. We landed on the moon.

America isn’t perfect, but our founding principles are just and noble. They laid the groundwork for the abolition of slavery. Hundreds of thousands of white Union soldiers died to defeat the South and free the slaves. During the term Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there were just five African Americans serving in the House of Representatives. It’s historical ignorance or political cynicism to claim America hasn’t made major progress on judging people on their character, not skin color.

America is the greatest country in human history. Celebrate it. Happy Independence Day.

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