America's birthday party might be a little gloomy today.
By many measures, it has not been a good year for her. She suffers from a bad economy brought on by a lingering housing crisis, lost jobs and rising unemployment. Many of her people worry about keeping their jobs; others worry about finding one.
Gas prices rise to new records almost daily: The once unimaginable $3 a gallon is a bargain compared to the $4 charged in most places today. She worries whether $4 soon will be a steal.
She remains embroiled in war, fighting enemies in not one but two countries. Just as progress is made in one, Iraq, the situation darkens in the other, Afghanistan. Last month, more of her sons and daughters died in Afghanistan than during any other month of the nearly 7-year-old conflict there. This week, she learned more of her soldiers soon will be told to join the fight.
Her biggest tormentor, Osama bin Laden, remains free nearly seven years after inflicting the biggest one-day horror in United States history.
She's lost faith in her leaders, with her president and Congress suffering near-historic low approval ratings.
No, we likely won't hear a boisterous rendition of "Happy Birthday" today.
Yet, it would be wrong of her not to celebrate. Today commemorates the birth of a grand experiment, the notion that people living in freedom are happier, more productive, more innovative, and better able to reach their potential.
She should celebrate the dedication and devotion of her Founding Fathers, who stared down long odds and risked death in pursuit of liberty. She should remember a Continental Army that challenged and defeated a military much larger, better equipped and more highly trained.
She should honor the millions of Americans who fought for freedom in the orchards of Gettysburg, the beaches of Normandy, the jungles of Vietnam and the streets of Birmingham.
She should set aside politics for a day and marvel that, less than 45 years after segregation, a black man is one of two finalists for the presidency.
America should draw comfort and hope from both its past and its present. She has overcome much greater problems before. And she has a wealth of resources to battle today's.
The most important of those resources are her people and her freedom; a freedom that was declared 232 years ago today.
No matter her predicament, America must always celebrate that.
Today, America should draw comfort and hope from both its past and its present.
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