(July 4)  As of today, Independence Day , we as a nation have three years to get ourselves together.

Three years from today, the United States will celebrate its semiquincentennial . (If you prefer a shorter word for the 250th birthday, the sestercentennial will do.) Yet patriotism, of the right and salutary kind, is disturbingly attenuated. Gallup reports that from 2004 until now, the number of us who say they are either extremely or very proud to be Americans has dropped from 91% to 67%, which is very near the record low.

Similarly and somewhat relatedly, “confidence” in the United States government has fallen all the way to 31%, also a record low.

This decline in national pride isn’t merely a somewhat worrisome trend. At least for those of us who remember the massive bicentennial celebration in 1976, the current state of affairs is a tragedy.

For 21 full months, official celebrations ramped up to the July 4, 1776, climax. In April 1975 was the 200th anniversary of the battles of Lexington and Concord — “Here once the embattled farmers stood and fired the shot heard round the world ” — and in June were commemorations of the remarkable colonial stand at Bunker (and Breed’s) Hill. In January, it seemed everyone in the country re-read Thomas Paine’s Common Sense (published on Jan. 10, 1776), imbibing its justifiable conceit that “ the cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind.”

And so on, right until the glorious, joyous, nationwide eruption of awe-filled pride on the day of the bicentennial itself.

Please allow me to get personal here. The Bicentennial was one of the seminal events of my life. I was 12 then, just old enough to start really appreciating the history of the nation’s founding and the ideals of ordered liberty and to recognize it as a wonderfully rare and massive advance in human thriving and human rights. The heady sense of, the inspirational emotion of, a “cause greater than self,” and a good and righteous one at that, was profound…. [The full column is at this link.]


Tags: , , ,