Cookouts, fireworks, a day off from the grind, these are the top three benefits at the forefront of our minds when the 4th of July rolls around. Some of us, perhaps momentarily, will reflect on those who began that fight for freedom 241 years ago, and the desperation and impossibility they felt facing the most powerful navy and army the world knew at that point in history. Some of them had fought with and for the British in what we now call the French and Indian War, others had no military background whatsoever and had to be trained for service in that ragtag outfit that came to be knows as the Continental Army. But, they prevailed with a spirit of courage and determination, their backs against the wall and the words of men like Nathan Hale "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country" ringing in their ears.
We still have the greatest country in the world. There's no backlog of visas for American citizens wanting to emigrate to Russia or China, Central or South America, Europe, or any country in Africa, Asia, or the Middle East.
I remember working with Chinese police officers in Haiti who were brave enough to speak out about their desire to live in America; how they detested the fact that their country sent political officers with them on their overseas tour to ensure compliance with political ideology, reinforced in mandatory weekly meetings; the constant awareness of guarding one's comments and the suspicion of who was informing; the denial of requests to make the three hour flight from Port-au-Prince to NYC because their government feared they would abscond.
I recall the impassioned young man on the campus of the University of Liberia, in Monrovia, in 2006 who wanted to know if I thought it possible that the United States could govern his country for a period of at least twenty years to rid it of corruption; the woman in the village of Harper, in Maryland County, Liberia, trying to hand me her baby with the plea that I take the infant to America so that he would at least have a chance in life; the looks in the eyes of the translators I worked with in places like Kosovo, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Lebanon as they envisioned the day that they, too, could move and live in the United States.
We've got our fair share of issues in this country. Log on to any news website, turn on the television, or read a newspaper, there's no shortage of information detailing it. But, even in the worst of times we are still a greater nation to live in than any country experiencing the best of times. And the world knows that, and it's why they keep lining up to get in.
It's the indomitable spirit of independence.