The American Spirit, An Identity Crisis

Today is the fourth of July. In America, it’s our most sacred patriotic holiday. It’s a time we come together and celebrate our union as a country. It’s a union of 50 states and 5 territories. It’s a union of over 327 million people¹ with diverse family backgrounds, faiths, and political beliefs. All make up one nation.

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Photo by Pixabay on

Through this Country’s history, we’ve had dark moments and times we’ve prevailed through wiser and stronger. It’s a strange dichotomy, one we are honestly sometimes unaware is there. For example, on one hand we take pride in the efforts of our parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents (depending your age) during World War 2 at home and abroad putting everything into an effort to defeat Hitler and his army. There are countless movies about it. Schindler’s List and The Pianist being my two favorite movies. We celebrate it. The triumph of good verses evil. And we should. But when I did a google search of movies about the bombing of Hiroshima or Nagasaki I came up short other than some documentaries and a few films I’ve never heard the names of before. Hiroshima with 202,118 registered deaths and the atomic bomb dropped 3 days later on Nagasaki an estimated 80,000 eventually died.² And I am not here to debate that decision or make us feel bad about it, I’m pointing this out for one reason.

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Photo by Octavio Suarez on

The thing that makes America great is often the thing that also blinds us simultaneously. We can be wildly optimistic. We can be hopeful. We have a can do spirit. And in times of crisis we can pull together. It is what is beautiful about us as Americans. And yet simultaneously in a not too distant past and present we can allow that optimism to cloud our judgement. We can allow the pride of “how far we’ve come” to disguise what we’ve still yet to do. Many times our piety can come through what we declare as law. Sometimes we justify it through what others around us at our place of worship believe, seeking a commonality instead of seeking God and what’s right. Not too long ago Jim Crow laws enforced segregation of African Americans from whites in the south. Not too long ago women could not vote. Not too long ago I could not be married to my wife.

You and I are different. You and I may not have the same political beliefs. You and I may not have the same faith. But you and I who live in this land called the United States of America have that bond. The bond is one of freedom and liberty, one that we treasure and take for granted all at the same time. Today we are reminded of the treasure. And while we remember and while we celebrate with our different ideas and voices, we must not forget. We can’t forget. Our brothers and sisters should all have the same liberties and the same freedoms. Because all men are created equal. All men. All men. All men. Not just those with a birthright into wealth. Not those with the birthright of having the right skin. Not those who have the birthright of being born in the right location. The moment we choose birthright over our creator who created each and every one of us in his own image is the day we lose the American Spirit. It is the day we lose our freedom. It is the day we lose our identity. Don’t let our optimism for the celebration of today allow us to lose sight of the one American value that binds each and every one of us.

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Sarah Jackson

Vigilant Poster Girl

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  1. United States Census Webpage

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