Happy Day Before our country’s 239th birthday on July 4th, commemorating the day we shook off the harness of oppression and took our place in the family of nations.
Now nearly unique in the world, we are a bastion of decency; an integrated society that welcomes the best and brightest from the four corners of the planet to come here to pursue freely the philosophy we call the American Dream.
That’s why everybody wants to be American or at least be in America. I’ve traveled to well over a hundred countries and in every one of them, the preferred destination nation is the United States.
In no other nation is someone as unfettered and as socially mobile. Here, without exception an ambitious and creative person can become more than he or she was when they started.
Sure we have our share of problems, inequality and racism among them. But that doesn’t alter the fact that hard work and enterprise are often rewarded with at least the opportunity for success.
I’ve seen it happen in my own family. My dad Cruz Rivera one of 17 children and the first in his poor Puerto Rican family to graduate high school is an example of what I’m talking about this 4th of July eve.
Basically penniless, he worked his way from cafeteria dish washer to cab driver to cafeteria supervisor to restaurant owner. He and my mom Lily Friedman Rivera moved from Brooklyn to Long Island, managed to buy a house with the GI Bill and helped guide their five children into the middle class.
And that opportunity to be more than your parents is still the
American reality. And even with our economic difficulties and the threats from ISIS and the disturbingly tenacious violence in the inner city, the opportunity to rise above your born station in life is still more true here than on any other nation on Earth. I know because I’ve seen most of them.
Tomorrow in the midst of celebrating the holiday weekend, hopefully with family and friends, take a minute to count your blessings. The problems, divisions and the controversies will all still be there on Monday or Tuesday when you have to get back to work.
In the meantime, enjoy the weekend and celebrate the world’s most successful, integrated, fair and fair-minded nation.
God Bless America is not just a cheesy slogan used by politicians to punctuate their partisan spiels. We say it as a prayer, an aspiration, a dream that this great experiment in true self-government as President Abraham Lincoln said remembering the brave dead from the terrible battle of Gettysburg that happened on this day 151 years ago —“that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”