When visiting Massachusetts recently, I felt the strong connection between the present and the past in many of the places I visited. Many areas in New England preserve and honor American history before and after the American Revolution, which I appreciate. The holiday isn’t just about fireworks, barbeques, and pool parties; blood was shed so that thirteen colonies could break free from an oppressive monarchy to become a nation in its own right. I try to remember the meanings of holidays that many of us take for granted, including our Independence Day, because I know there are many parts of the world that do not enjoy the same freedoms that we do. As a dark skinned woman, I felt at ease traveling to various parks and other points of interest without fear; others like me in other countries may not have those same freedoms.
The historical events surrounding Independence Day did not result in complete freedom for everyone, as we all know. Slavery did not end until the following century, Native Americans were deprived of their lands and their way of life, and women did not have the right to vote until 1921, but it was still a step in the right direction. The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution laid the groundwork for the progress in our country, and both are still admired today. In the middle of all of the Fourth of July celebrations that will be taking place this weekend, I will take at least one moment to think about all of the hard work and sacrifices made by countless people (some we know by name, and many others who we will never know) that have given us the freedoms we have today. As we know from news reports, history books, and perhaps from our own lives, living free does not come easily, even though it should.