On July 4, 1926, in a speech in the City of Brotherly Love, President Calvin Coolidge said: “At the end of 150 years, the four corners of the earth unite in coming to Philadelphia as to a holy shrine in grateful acknowledgment of a service so great, which a few inspired men here rendered to humanity, that it is still the preeminent support of free government throughout the world.”
Nearly a century later, the legacy of those inspired men is in question. On this Independence Day, there must be no apologies for the greatest nation that has ever existed. Today, we celebrate the unabashed glory and goodness of the United States of America.
There are those today, members of a hyper-educated but unwise elite, who consider the American experiment a failure. They believe it was never good to begin with. In our own city, The New York Times has dedicated its vast resources to spreading this pernicious lie.
But you won’t read that in these pages on July 4.
About two months after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the founder of this newspaper, Alexander Hamilton, was serving under Gen. George Washington — and badly losing the Battle of Brooklyn.
How hopeless must the cause have seemed in their quiet moments, haunted by the foreboding sense that their newborn nation would perish. Many of us have the same fear today.
But they didn’t lose. And neither will we.
This year, as hard-left vandals and their liberal apologists tear down statues of the Founding Fathers in a display of staggering ignorance, we must stand up as Americans and announce with the full-throated harmony of the most diverse nation on earth that the United States is still, and will always be, our beloved homeland.
On Independence Day, my neighbor Bruno, who immigrated here from Italy 50 years ago, will grill sausage and play with his grandkids. On Independence Day, the Chinese family on the other side of my Brooklyn row house, who speak about as much English as I speak Mandarin, will celebrate their new lives as free citizens.
On Independence Day, the sad, broken souls who vent rage against this nation can’t extinguish the joy of ordinary men and women whose daily lives give quiet testament to the enduring promise of 1776.
On Independence Day, there should be no caveats. No self-negating apologies, confessions or Maoist-style struggle sessions. No trigger warnings.
As Donald Rumsfeld once quipped, “Who do we want to provide leadership in the world? Somebody else?” On Independence Day, we remember that freedom wasn’t granted to us — but demanded of us. On Independence Day, we are all full-blooded brothers and sisters in liberty.
This is the nation where, within living memory of slavery, Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois climbed the summit of academia and became household names. The land where Jews fleeing pogroms found refuge and opportunity. The land of every creed, every language, every religion. And why does it work? Because, before and after all of our differences, we are all Americans.
Is America just a governmental system, an abstract set of rights and procedures? Is it just a vast and prosperous land? Is it an economic system? No. America is all of those things, to be sure, but America isn’t a mere word, nor a mere abstraction. America is all of us, the great living castle of our freedom that protects even those who foolishly would destroy it. America is a nation.
So be proud on Independence Day, proud of our nation. Don’t let the naysayers get you down.
Sixty years after Coolidge spoke in Philadelphia, another president, Ronald Reagan, gave remarks on Independence Day from New York Harbor.
He said: “My fellow Americans, we’re known around the world as a confident and a happy people.
Tonight, there’s much to celebrate and many blessings to be grateful for. So while it’s good to talk about serious things, it’s just as important and just as American to have some fun. Now, let’s have some fun — let the celebration begin!”
David Marcus is The Federalist’s New York Correspondent.