My Reflection for the July 4th Long weekend
July 2, 2020
It is the 4th of July holiday weekend and I know are all ready for the break and since the 4th is on a Saturday that means we have a little extra time to celebrate and relax this year. The 4th of July is a holiday I wasn’t really familiar with growing up as it is a uniquely American holiday rooted in the United States’ declaring their independence from Britain. I confess, once I experienced the celebrations in my adopted home town of Fort Kent, I was hooked, and I have looked forward to it every year since.
This year as we celebrate the 4th of July with our friends and family, I encourage you to take a short pause and remember what we are celebrating – our country – the United States. It is a place that strives to welcome people from all ethnic, social and economic backgrounds, strives to raise everyone up to a higher standard and make the world a better place through our example and leadership. There is a reason why generations of people from countries like mine continue to want to come here and start a new life.
I know that this country that has adopted me is not perfect! The events of the last few months have shined a bright light on that. We have real problems with systematic racism, police brutality, extreme partisanship, and a sense of individualism that has only helped transmit a deadly virus. These are all horrible, horrible things that make me sad for this country and I, WE, must fight against them every single day. If we are to achieve the ideals we have strived for since our birthday on July 4, 1776 we must not just condemn racism and hate, but we must fight to end it. We must educate the ignorant who do not understand because it has never personally affected them. “The right to a quality education is, I believe, the perfect path to bridge the gap between different cultures and to reconcile various civilizations. Without such a right, the values of liberty, justice and equality will have no meaning. Ignorance is by far the biggest danger and threat to humankind” (Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned). Education is, and always will be the antidote to ignorance.
The country we are celebrating proudly on the 4th of July 2020 is amazing, unique and flawed – it’s truly a symbol for humanity. We see on the news the flaws, the hate that some Americans have for other humans and people who are not exactly like them, but they are not a majority. The majority of Americans are kind, caring and compassionate humans who teach, volunteer, care for their neighbors, and donate to charities for veterans, the homeless, children and animals. They welcome immigrants and refugees like me and help them become citizens who will make the country even better. They want people to know that their life matters and they are loved and accepted regardless of their circumstance, race or sexual orientation.
This is the America that goes out in boats to rescue neighbors during a flood or after a hurricane. This is the America where a black man picks up a white man who was injured during a protest for Black Lives Matter and carries him to safety. This is the America that turns their Little Library into a food pantry during a pandemic to help their neighbors because they can and this is the America that says it is time to end racism, hate and inequality now. This is the American that I am proud to celebrate on July 4th.
“I believe in America because we have great dreams, and because we have the opportunity to make those dreams come true.” (Wendell Willkie). I continue to believe in America for the exact same reason. I hope this long holiday weekend brings you peace, relaxation and joy as you spend it with your friends and family.
Dr. Melik Peter Khoury