Happy Birthday, Who Are You?

Happy Birthday, America.

I hear you answer, America, “Who are you talking to?”

“The United States of America,” I say.

I can name those fifty united states if you give me enough time and when I’m finished, we’ll have a list of the fifty states. And they are not the America having a birthday.

Am I America? We often hear that America is her people. On this Independence Day morning, I am on the porch in low light. It’s raining, something I wished for last evening when I was playing in some mulch. Sometimes, America is the country that got what she wished for. But what she wished for, America also fought for, and millions shed blood for.

So, is America an idea, or maybe a condition? Freedom. Liberty. Yes, that’s it. But we were not always fighting for independence, and when we staged that first big revolt that led to the creation of these United States, we did not fight for the independence of all people. We fought about freedom for all people many decades later.

I have arrived at my personal explanation of who and what America is. America is a contract, a binding contract. Our forefathers eventually put together a contract called The Constitution, and like the parties to an endless contract–say, marriage–we’ve been arguing ever since about what the contract means.

When the marriage fails, we get divorced. It’s not that hard to get out of the marriage contract these days. Not so with The Constitution of the United States of America.

This American contract was arranged by those who came before us and we are bound by their arrangement. All parties to the contract have equal responsibility, 1) to remain faithful to that agreement to stick together, and 2) to protect the ability of our countrymen and countrywomen to remain faithful with us. It is that second responsibility that  maintains the existence of political parties, incites our in-fighting,and gives birth to movements regarding the rights of those we have failed to protect. I accept both responsibilities.

I’ve had more than one marriage but I’ll never have another. The one I have now  is the only one for me.

I’ve had only one country and I’ll never have another. This one is the only one for me.

Happy Birthday, America, and God bless the USA.

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