Today is July 4th, our Independence Day.
Thirty years ago, I’d be taking my son and daughter to the morning parade, to a local hot dog place for lunch, and then close out with the fireworks display on the Niagara River.
Today, I’m stuck in my Florida condominium, all my family out-of-town, restaurant dining and fireworks out of the question, as COVID-19 sweeps through Florida. So, what did I do today, patriotically?
I watched Hamilton on Disney Plus.
I’ve always wanted to see this famous play, but age and health issues have always made it out of reach. What a treat it was to see this magnificent musical translated to high definition 4K format, the multiple cameras and superior microphone systems making you feel you’re in the first row. If you have the Disney Plus streaming service, you’re in for a treat if you watch this movie.
It’s hard not to watch this movie about the founders of our country and not reflect on the unrest and racial animosity that plagues our nation today. What is the founder’s role in today’s unrest?
These men, Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Hamilton, and Burr created a country ruled by law, set forth in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, crafting documents that said: “All men are created equal, … and are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” These were lofty goals for a newly created country, and for that these men deserve our praise and eternal respect.
That said, we should honest enough with ourselves to admit that some of these men did not practice what they preached. Some of them were slave owners.
“All men are created equal” did not apply to the Africans kidnapped from their homes, brought by arduous sea voyages to the colonies, sold like cattle, and forced to work with no rights whatsoever. The sins of our forefathers brought a ruinous civil war, the Jim Crow era, and today’s nascent white supremacy.
I’m not for pulling down any statues of Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, and other founders. They put pen to paper creating an equal society. We should learn about their lives and honor their legacy for what they proposed.
At the same time, we need to redouble our efforts to create a truly equal society, where everybody has a shot, regardless of their ethnic heritage, color of their skin, religion, sexual preference, etc.
The founders were flawed. It does not dishonor them to fix things that they didn’t get right.