July 4, 2022

By Arthur H. Gunther III

      We eat picnic food, watch fireworks and chill out on July 4th in the national birthday celebration recognizing Independence Day, our 1776 Declaration of Independence from Great Britain over growing oppression and denial of human rights. The American experiment had begun. Our founders formed a republic and warned us that it would be so only “if we can keep it.”

     Before the candles are blown out this year, before we chow down and enjoy fireworks, before we take measured pride of accomplishment as year 247 begins in America, we must soberly ask how, as the great experiment unfolds, we are going to offer and protect liberties and rights for all, especially our children. Will we continue to fight the national challenges, the oppressions we took on after we won our freedom? Will we make America better for all, which should always be job #1? Remember, the founders only began the experiment, with the thoughts and tools of their time. Succeeding generations were charged with carrying the ball as times demanded.

     Challenges have been met with strong success, some mixed, some in failure. All this with great loss of life and suffering from so many. The Civil War, two world wars, numerous other conflicts; slavery; economic depressions; battles for civil rights, equal rights, women’s rights; natural catastrophes; economic inequality – all are part of the national fabric sewn from 1776, sometimes seriously rent.

     Sadly, there is enough reason in 2022 to question whether the republic can stand through the darkening night that has come with the unfolding, unbelievable story of a former president seeking a coup over a failed election; with the loss of 1950s-style compromise between the two major political parties that helped us survive, creating the new civil war of red against blue; with growing dislike, even hatred of our fellow humankind flourishing like choking weed in a field of ignorance, misinformation and prejudice; with a high court, once of great respect, now with a political, even “religious” agenda that threatens to destroy the republic.

     There is more than enough reason today to fly the nation’s flag, the great Stars & Stripes earned through blood and sacrifice, but upside down in distress, for the oppressions we have fostered and ignored cause our ship of state to toss and turn in stormy waters.

      Not one of us today, we Americans, should chomp on a hot dog, have a beer, take a nap or watch the night sky light up until we declare our national nightmare is here: We are losing the republic through ignored settled law already set as inviolate precedence; through suppressing women’s right to their bodies, setting them as modern slaves to the state; through sanctioning greed of profit over protected climate for our children; through not recognizing the wrong of a “president” who sought dictatorship and demanding he stand in the court of justice; through growing hate between sections of the nation, orchestrated by those who seek power over the individual and care not a whit about the ordinary person.

     No, this is not a joyous Fourth, secured by those who died and suffered physically and mentally in our wars; by Native Americans, slaves, the chronically poor who helped others succeed but who were – are – not given a piece of the pie; by those who have suffered indignity, pain and loss of life through inequality and prejudice. Until we again recognize the fragile value of the great experiment begun by the founders on July 4, 1776, we will not have a republic for all, safe, sound and promising. Indeed, we may lose it.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman.