If the events of the past few weeks — the riots, destruction and lack of civil discourse — tell us anything, it’s that Americans appear more divided than ever. Despite the divisiness of our current political culture, surveys show that most Americans still rightfully believe in our founding principles and timeless values enshrined in the Constitution. For good reason, we’ve all heard the story of America’s early years many times over.
I for one will never get tired of hearing about our flawed yet brilliant Founding Fathers who created the American experiment. But when we leave the story off there, I think we miss the whole picture of what our nation was founded on. America is a country that continues to grow and get better every day. We are not a finished product, but it’s up to Americans themselves to keep building, and even make repairs now and then.
We need to remember that the typical American experience certainly doesn’t end with the Founding Fathers. We need to remember those who took the ideals of the Founders and ran with them full speed ahead.
When I think about those who were brave enough to leave their homes in the past, the reflection is at first personal. My ancestors emigrated from Eastern Europe to start a new life in the United States a few generations back. They settled into a poor neighborhood in Cleveland and got to work in the steel mills without blinking an eye. Life wasn’t easy for them, but they did what they had to do. Like the Founders, my ancestors were ready to build something new and better, if not for themselves, then for future generations.
It wasn’t just my ancestors who were attracted to the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Millions of people have immigrated to the United States over the years and many more are still making the journey today. If you ever forget or take for granted just how exceptional this country is, think about how much people are willing to sacrifice in order to get here. That should tell you all you need to know about the greatness of our nation.
At the same time, I think it’s safe to say that those who desire to come to America have a different perspective than us folks already living here. We might feel bogged down by our nation’s politics, but people coming here understand that America is more than its political divides. They understand that Americans actually get along with and care about each other when we take national politics out of the picture.
We all have individual and family stories of which we can be proud. But the greatest story, the one most deserving of our pride, is that which belongs to all of us. The reality of our great nation is that we have all put in and continue to put in the work to make sure this country prospers. America’s story might have started with the Founders, but it is still being written today.
We all have a reason to fight for the future of our Republic; we all have a reason to celebrate its past and present and the fact that it is a place that people from all over the world want to call home. Above all, we have a reason to celebrate each other. This Labor Day, let’s take some time to reflect on how far we have come. Let’s pause the politics and celebrate Americans.
Adam Brandon is the President of FreedomWorks.