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Editorial: Celebrating Fourth of July can recognize ongoing struggle for a more perfect union

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Bell's Amusement Park in 2000 (copy)

Fireworks light up the night sky behind the Golden Driller at the Tulsa Exposition Center during the Bell’s Amusement Park Fireworks show on July 4, 2000.

The July 4 celebration Monday marks the best of American ideals for independence; the rugged determination to fight off oppressors for self-governance.

The Declaration of Independence that launched a war and foundation of our country contains bold phrases and principles standing the test of time.

“… all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

It was brave of colonists to stand up to the Goliath of military and political might and violently break away. The American Revolution and values of freedom and equality continue to inspire the world.

But the struggle to live up to those standards is painful and ongoing.

That document did not provide freedom and equality to everyone and kept alive the sin of slavery. Many of the nation’s founders and early presidents lived a dichotomy between their words and actions, leaving generations to ponder and argue over that hypocrisy.

Civil rights movwements invoked the systems of self-governance, but it was often a harrowing, bloody generations-long battle.

For many, the fight continues; rights are never absolute.

Through the differences, our republic and democratic model survived by a shared embrace of justice, fairness and what President Abraham Lincoln called a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

We’re in a difficult moment in American history.

Congressional hearings about the investigative findings of the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol insurrection are difficult to hear and comprehend. It’s a time when what leadership does next on behalf of our nation is critical.

In addition, a spate of U.S. Supreme Court decisions have further divided our nation. This election year has attracted unprecedented amounts of dark money, creating ugly campaigns.

Yet our nation can, again, come out stronger. Every time Americans face gridlock, tragedy, disappointment and even war, we find strength in our commonalities. We find our way back to the words in the Declaration of Independence:

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

That closing line declares unity and camaraderie. It’s a promise that, as Americans, we have more in common than not.

This Fourth of July put aside the quarrels and disagreements. Enjoy the fireworks and community gatherings. Recognize that our diversity of people and perspectives make for a more perfect union.

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