July Fourth is the day we bring out our American colors, decorate and throw parties.
We celebrate freedom and courage and take pride in our values. We have been a beacon internationally, especially after World War II, when people came here to escape the Brown Shirts of Germany, the Black Shirts of Italy and the Green Shirts of Romania. They had the courage to seek freedom from loyalty oaths, the insidious hatred of those who are different and bellicose speeches from a wealthy demagogue promoting violence to get his way and squelching all opposition.
We are lucky — and complacent. We have never experienced what millions went through and what millions are experiencing today. But this is not just luck. America created an integrated society and guaranteed everyone the free exercise of their religion, without fear of persecution.
As citizens, we need to show the world this can be done. This is our strength. If we begin to isolate, separate out from the herd and attack immigrants, we begin to look like 1930s Germany or 1920s Italy, and we will be at war — with ourselves. It is the definition of “un-American.”
Be vigilant, and understand that history can indeed repeat itself, and we could destroy the very fabric of America. This Fourth of July, let’s show unity. Let’s celebrate, but remember the world is watching us.
Mary Ellen Fuller