Author’s Note: The United States is approaching its 245th birthday. That is quite an achievement when you consider the opportunities.
As I sit here reflecting on my country of birth, I am very much aware of the discomfort many Americans feel. This discomfort comes from many sources: How do we safely get out of the pandemic that has changed our world? How can we as Americans come together again in peace? How will the violence end in so many of our larger cities? Some wonder whether what most historians consider to be the greatest experiment in democracy in world history is not showing signs of weakness and decay.
As we both as individuals and as a country struggle to regain our foothold and restore our confidence and pride in being American, perhaps this would be a good time to reflect on the things that make us ALL uniquely Americans . – GP
July 4, 2021: Let’s Unite
Former US President Bill Clinton once said, “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.” That statement is both simple, profound, and timely. Like President Clinton, many Americans believe that, despite the challenges, America remains the land of opportunity that many around the world envy.
It seems to me that a tug-of-war is going on for the heart of America these days. It is particularly worrying that increasingly louder voices are using the current turmoil to advance personal goals that may not be in the best interests of the country as a whole. One thing that encourages many (including me) is that almost all of the parties involved are focused on the next round of national elections in 2022 instead of open rebellion. I hope you comfort me with the knowledge that most Americans still believe that the ballot box is a better way of making change than the ball.
Are you 245 years old?
Research shows that most scholars believe that the earliest civilizations were around 6000-6500 BC. Developed. This was the time when most scholars agree that people began to settle in an area instead of living a nomadic existence. There are 10 countries that are considered by many to be the earliest – and all are well over 245 years old and were in fact founded thousands of years ago. One of the problems with trying to date a country’s beginnings is that almost all countries “evolve” over time.
A second challenge that makes determining the dates of its creation difficult is understanding the difference between an empire and a country. Simply put, an empire is a political entity that rules over large areas. A country is a sovereign state with its own territorial borders and government.
The youngest of these, known as the “older” countries, is one you probably never heard of – San Marino, a tiny country on the Italian peninsula. Records show that the land was found in 301 B.C. Was founded when a monastery was being built. Scholars argue that it has been an uninterrupted sovereign state since that date, making it the oldest state of its kind. Interestingly, it also has the oldest constitution in the world, dating back to 1600. However, because not all laws are codified, scholars generally agree that our US constitution is the oldest.
Others in the âElderlyâ category are Iran (known in the West as Persia until 1935), the 550 BC. It was founded as part of the Achaemenid Empire. Japan was founded in 660 BC. Founded. The date marks the first time an emperor ascended the throne and established Japan’s imperial dynasty. China became 221 BC. Founded when the first Chinese dynasty was established.
Greece became 800 BC. Founded when the country began to leave the Middle Ages. Although Ethiopia in 980 BC Was founded, people lived there as nomads several million years ago. Georgia was founded in the 15th century BC. Founded when tribes formed small states. In 3000 BC Afghanistan was founded and one of the first cities in the world, Mundigak (near the better-known modern Kandahar) was founded.
3300 BC India was founded. The traces of the people living in the region go back to the civilization of the Indus valley. Egypt became 6000 BC. Founded when Upper and Lower Egypt were united into a single kingdom.
There are other countries with centuries of history. At just 245 years old, the US is just a toddler compared to this one! One important point must not be overlooked. Did people live in what we know as the USA before the USA was founded? Certainly. Many had been on this land long before – came through the north over the land bridge, crossed both oceans in all kinds of boats, and came up from the south from the other Americas. Our country – the United States of America – didn’t exist until 1776.
Benjamin Franklin was one of America’s more colorful founding fathers. Small in stature but much wisdom, Franklin understood perhaps better than many of his contemporaries both the breadth and the limits of the new country’s constitution. Franklin commented, âThe Constitution only guarantees you the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself. “
At some point, many have forgotten this important difference. Americans are not guaranteed to be happy. Nobody is or can ever be. To think that such a thing as “bestowed happiness” is even possible is ridiculous. What we are guaranteed is the right to pursue it – and that “it” is what each of us as individuals define as “happiness”. For some it may be wealth; a loving family for others; for many a peaceful and healthy life. Whatever âitâ is, the individual has the responsibility to go their own way in order to achieve their particular happiness.
Martin Scorsese, himself the grandson of Italian immigrants, grew up in Little Italy, New York City. With determination and hard work, he became one of America’s premier film directors, producers, screenwriters, and actors. To today’s Americans, who may still be confused about what the Constitution promises, his words sound like, âWhen I was growing up, I can’t remember being told that America was made for everyone to get rich. I remember being told it was about opportunity and the pursuit of happiness. Not happiness itself, but striving. “
O beautiful for wide skies. . .
While âThe Star-Spangled Bannerâ is our national anthem, there is a second song that is just as closely associated with the United States. America the Beautiful is a hymn that honors the physical greatness of this land, the pilgrims who sought and found freedom here, the heroes who fought for this freedom with their lives, and the dream of enduring patriotism and love to the country, that will guide the future path of our country.
The song came about almost by accident. The text was written in 1893 by Katharine Lee Bates as a poem entitled “Pikes Peak”. The music was composed by the choirmaster and organist Samuel A. Ward, who wrote it in 1882 as music for a hymn “O Mother Dear, Jerusalem” in his church in New Jersey. The two parts were combined in 1910 and published as “America the Beautiful”.
US President Harry S. Truman wrote: âAmerica was not built on fear. America was based on courage, imagination and an unbeatable determination to get the job done. âTruman’s words resonate today as we face serious challenges to our republic from near and far.
Perhaps never has the last verse of “America the Beautiful” been sung so fervently as it was on July 4th:
O nice for patriot dream
That looks beyond the years
Your alabaster cities shine
God has poured out his grace on you
And crown your good with brotherhood