In 1776, with the approval of the Continental Congress, America was voted to become an independent nation after becoming tired of being ruled by Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence was written with the goals “to rally the troops, win foreign allies, and to announce the creation of a new country.” (History) Since 1776, we have celebrated this historic event of individual freedom. However, many people in our nation today, still do not feel freedom in contexts.
On Independence Day, many people have their traditions with family and friends. Whether it be going down the street and joining your community to watch a beautiful display of fireworks, or grilling pool side in the backyard, everyone uses the day as a celebration of America and its unique history. Nonetheless, many people forget that even though America essentially was freed, many people were not.
Unfortunately, there are entire ethnic, racial, and gender groups of people that still do not experience true freedom. What does that mean? Well, various cultures, religious groups, genders, and the LGBTQ+ community are still unable to live with freedom from judgement, without others minimizing their diverse identities.
For example, many of the movements and protests organized in our country are illustrated by individuals who do not feel free. These groups don’t experience equity. They lack genuine freedom, and are raising their voices in an effort to ignite change.
I urge you to sit down and think on Independence Day.
Think about all you are grateful for. Think about others around you who are facing the troubles of exclusion. Think about how YOU can make a change to unite America. We must make a strong effort to live by the very well-known part of the Declaration of Independence, “All men and women are created equal.”
Below are some ideas of how you can incorporate DEI into your Independence Day observance.
- Research Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech on The American Dream.
Dr. King created “The American Dream” to be the diversity edition of The Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by God, Creator, with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
- Research Abraham Lincoln’s speech at Independence Hall in 1861.
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies.” Every individual has different beliefs, passions, loves, history, etc. We must remember the beauty in life itself, that every individual is distinct in their own ways.
- Research immigration in the United States of America and how to help.
Remember to not just celebrate America but ALL Americans. Many individuals have come to America to start a new life of freedom. Celebrate the challenges and achievements they have overcome.
- Raise an American Flag in your front yard from sunrise to sunset and recall what the colors of the flag represent, despite the inequities.
- Celebrate your own story and what makes you unique. Have an open discussion to learn about your peers’ backgrounds and celebrate the beauty and strength of diversity in the United States. There is no better tactic than enhancing equality by listening.
- When you go to a community firework display, pool party, or walk around your neighborhood, greet others. Illustrate how America is in this together. One handshake or smile can stick with someone for a very long time.
- Thank your peers, friends, and colleagues who have served this country. Challenge yourself and others to celebrate themselves on this amazing day.
Finally, remember to celebrate life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Think about the individuals who have made an impact on this country and on your life. If they are someone close to you, send them a message of thanks. Remember that you are a loved individual in this country, and that you matter.
Emily Thomas serves as an Executive Recruiter at McDermott + Bull. She will primarily work with corporate clients and private businesses focused in the industrial manufacturing and distribution, aerospace and defense, and food and beverage industries. Emily graduated from Grand Canyon University with a bachelor’s degree in communication and a minor in business management. She is based in Phoenix, AZ, and enjoys hot yoga and live music.