Pleading The Fourth

It may be just a little ironic that someone deemed a Patriot will be forced to plead the fifth but that is not what I am writing about.

I am Pleading The Fourth.

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July. Americans have been celebrating the Fourth of July for 241 years, ever since the Declaration of Independence was adopted and the Thirteen Colonies became Thirteen Independent States. Then, with the adoption of the Constitution Thirteen years later, the fun really began.

We were and we are one nation. Some like to add “under God” to it and some resent the extra words. We have focused on this disagreement and many more others of late thereby highlighting all that we hate about “Them”.

“Them” could be the people who watch MSNBC or FOX News. It’s all in the eye of the viewer. Whichever side you support, tolerance for the opposite view has gone the way of the musket. We don’t like each other anymore.

America has a long history of not liking each other.

Put your group (HERE) and you can be pretty sure at some time people didn’t like members of your group. Many may still not.

Back in the day when young people were singing peace and love songs and burning cannabis instead of flags and crosses, many of us extolled the similarities that we all shared. We weren’t so much into promoting diversity as much as ignoring our differences of color and faith and national origin as well as sexual orientation and recognizing that we are all brothers and sisters sharing a common humanity.

It was easy to do this in The Bronx. Even in neighborhoods that were predominantly white, there were Jews, Protestants, and Catholics (no one advertised they were an atheist and we didn’t know the word agnostic). There were Germans, Italians, Irish, Polish, Greeks, and they all hyphenated “American” onto their identity.

In school and as our neighborhoods evolved blacks and hispanics were added to the Bronx American Dream and, yes, life was never perfect but we did our best to get along and I think we pretty much succeeded,

When Kennedy beat Nixon in 1960 there was some jubilation in Catholic households, well Irish households. I was never quite sure the non-Irish members of our Church were ever that happy about it.  But the point is, anyone who voted for Nixon was still a proud American. No one talked trash about either of the candidates or about each other’s political party.

All Men Are Created Equal.

I always like saying that you couldn’t put All In The Family on TV today. We have gotten so intolerant that good old fashioned satire is taboo. I think the same is true about The Declaration of Independence, at least that portion above.

I know that statement excludes women but I think it is a good thing.

In order to evolve as a people, we must understand our past. Excluding women in that statement may offend us today, and, even though an argument can be made that it made for a better sentence by not adding  …and women to it, women were not equal at the time of its writing. You can be damn sure that blacks did not come under that umbrella either.

The Constitution went even further and had to be amended to correct it.

It’s to our betterment to remember that our Founding Fathers were not perfect. It keeps us honest by knowing that. Our leaders today are also not perfect. It took the people and voters over the 241 years of this blessed country’s history to get us this far and we are not done.

We fought a Civil War because we could not see beyond our own shortsighted views. Let’s not make the same mistake.

We argued about immigrants when  they were coming from Ireland and then from Italy and then from China and then from Eastern Europe. We also learned that each of these groups added so much to our nation and perhaps we can learn from that past and apply it to the new immigrants who are being castigated today.

So, whether you are hosting a BBQ or going to the beach or just watching the Macy’s Fireworks on TV, think about the history behind the celebration. While it may have been an imperfect start, no one I know is unhappy with the result.

There are differences among us. Regional, racial, religious, and political, differences that can cause terrible things to be said and written about each other. I stopped posting onto Facebook because of these differences and I let them dictate how I interact with the world.

No more.

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July and it is a holiday that expresses the common heritage that we all share and enjoy.

Happy Fourth of July

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2 Responses to Pleading The Fourth

  1. maureen connelly says:

    Enjoyed reading this post and agree with your thoughts. I thought you might be interested to know that two weeks ago, I drove back to the old neighborhood. It felt good to be there. Drove down Leland Avenue: looks like it did in 1960; apartment buildings (1963)…the same. Homes the same..layout the same. 1231 and 1233 Leland still hanging in…..after approximately 90 years. I continued across Gleason Avenue…Leland the same. Circled around to Thieriot, then Taylor, coming back around Westchester. Of course the stores are Latin in nature, clubs, restaurants. I observed no empty stores, no “For Rent” signs. Montera Funeral Home continues to be an anchor, as does Willie’s Steak House. I did not see a whole lot of people, but I know the population is mostly Latino. A cookout was beginning to happen on Fr. Dolan’s field. A Corpus Christi procession was taking place along Watson Avenue….with about 60 people singing and praying in Spanish. Beach Avenue looks the same: Delannandros store is still there and operating. And yes, the Irish and Italians and Germans and Polish are probably for the most part not there…….but I would say that this area is still a living and vibrant “immigrant” community. And this is what Independence Day is all about.

    • section6rowh says:

      Thanks Maureen, I had the same feeling. I went down Leland last year and took a few pictures and it brought me right back to my childhood. It’s the same as it was, hard working people raising their kids. It is a shame that Blessed Sacrament had to close but that’s the way of the world.

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