Reflections on the Fourth of July

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 3, 2015

I’m hoping this will not be looked on as “Oh no! Not another Fourth of July column!”

It seems when we get to the Fourth, the patriotism and love of country bursts through even the most hardened of us cynical “liberal” journalists and we break into a flag waving, “God Bless America” singing columns about the glories and meaning of the holiday, and in some ways, I’m running in that mode.

As a nation, we’ve been pretty fortunate. We’ve withstood an invasion, a civil war and economic turmoil. We’ve suffered together and banded together to overcome natural and man-made obstacles and disasters. Like the Timex watch slogan, we took a licking and kept on ticking over the past 239 years and survived.

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We’ve survived attempts to restrict our freedoms like the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1789, which included a provision calling for fines or imprisonment for people who criticized the government, the president or Congress. The law failed to pass because enough intelligent members of Congress (remember, we’re talking about an earlier time) opposed it.

In the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, the country was torn apart by racism and Civil Rights issues which exist to this day. In the ’60s and ’70s, the Vietnam War tore the country apart as people split (sometimes violently) over having U.S. troops in a Southeast Asia. That battle resulted in the death of four people at Kent State University during a protest over America’s invasion of Cambodia.

The country saw the resignation of a sitting president in 1974 when Richard Nixon, faced with potential impeachment for his part in the Watergate break-in, left the oval office.

That’s a lot of stuff to endure and still avoid anarchy.

You would think we’ve learned from our experiences and improve. But unfortunately, we still face problems. We still have people who want, for whatever reason, to restrict the rights of others based on race, religion or other characteristics. And we have a Congress that, based on their behavior over the past two years, is overpaid and ineffective.

I guess at this point I should be calling for a revolution, but I won’t, although I believe we need to vote the rascals out and give other folks a chance to get the job done. But to be perfectly honest, I’m not too thrilled with the crop of candidates I’ve seen for national office. It tells you something when polls show Donald Trump, he of the strange hair style that looks like a bad comb-over and overloaded mouth, is second among Republican presidential hopefuls.

But then I’ve realized we’re still learning to be a nation. I don’t feel so bad, because I look at our European neighbors who have been at it hundreds, nay, thousands, of years, they ain’t got it right, either.

And maybe we’re ahead of them.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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