Flickr photo by Chad Davis
Our nation's Independence Day essentially commemorates an act of rebellion, which occurred on July 4, 1776, when over fifty signed the Declaration of Independence and that the thirteen British Colonies were now independent states free and no longer a part of the British Empire.
These signers spearheaded a birth of a nation and engaged in a struggle with Britain which involved people like Samuel Adams writing, "The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men," Benjamin Franklin pronouncing, "Where liberty dwells, there's my country," and Patrick Henry saying, "Give me liberty or give me death!"
So, in honor of those who we believe were responsible for our nation's independence, to mark this Fourth of July, I find there is no better way to mark it than to honor those who currently carry on the American tradition of agitation, struggle, and rebellion.
I honor those in the LGBT community in America who challenge each and every day the equivocation and dithering that Obama and the Democratic Party are engaging in as they righteously argue for a repeal or suspension of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", urge Americans to oppose future measures similar to Prop 8, and demand equality for all in America.
I pay tribute to the 250 Republic Windows & Doors workers in Chicago who in December of 2008 upon hearing that the plant would be shutting down chose to occupy the plant and demand that they be paid vacation and severance pay or the factory be kept open. The workers' strike directly challenged Bank of America, which received $25 billion in a recent $700 billion bailout and then cut off credit to Republic Windows.
I pay tribute to the activists in Appalachia who are fighting the vile practice of mountaintop removal (MTR). Actress Daryl Hannah, climate scientist James Hansen, and former congressman Ken Hechler, along with many local residents afflicted by MTR, were recently arrested for engaging in an act of civil disobedience at Massey Energy just over a week ago. (As Hannah explains, MTR "leaves behind a virtual hideous moonscape of devastated earth, billions of gallons of poisonous toxic sludge, and boarded up towns with dramatically high rates of cancer.")
I honor those involved in the Free Gaza movement who sailed a ship, the Spirit of Humanity, to Gaza to deliver much needed humanitarian and reconstruction supplies to besieged Gaza. The crew of the ship, which included Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney were kidnapped by the Israeli military and currently are being held in detention as U.S. officials remain largely silent on the matter.
I recognize the concerned Americans who stood up for peace and humanity and served a "criminal complaint" at an Army Experience Center in a mall in Philadelphia claiming the center solicits underage persons to act in a violent manner. A handful including former members of the military were arrested for directly challenging the operations of a center which uses violent video games to indoctrinate children and convince them to join the army.
I celebrate the veterans in Iraq Veterans Against the War who almost a year ago marched in an unpermitted march to the Pepsi Center where the Democratic National Convention was being held to demand that Obama support an immediate withdrawal from Iraq.
I commend those in Congress who had the moral fortitude to hold to their principles and defy an Obama Administration who threatened to not support Democrats especially freshman Democrats who opposed the passage of a war supplemental spending bill ($97 billion for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan). Thirty-two congressmen ultimately stayed strong and "placed the interests of their constituents and the people of America, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, above the interests of the Democratic Party."
I congratulate organizations like the People for the American Way and the ACLU, which have been tirelessly working for accountability for torture. They continue to fight for civil liberties and the rule of law as a complicit Obama Administration refuses to investigate and prosecute those who likely committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Bush Administration.
I celebrate bloggers and citizen journalists who are taking it upon themselves to do first-class reporting on issues and topics that members of the corporate, mainstream media are far too comfortable with ignoring. They provide insight and opinion that is far better than the punditry on cable news shows on any given day, and they also from time to time engage in efforts on en par with the best news organizations in America.
I appreciate those in America who refused to be silent during the Bush Administration as torture, violations of civil liberties and human rights, and wars and violence for empire were carried out in our name and I continue to appreciate those who demand Obama oppose the undemocratic and criminal policies of the Bush years.
Finally, I honor truth-seeking Americans who understand it is their personal and global responsibility to be informed. They ask questions, doubt authority, and perform Google searches and visit several Internet news sites seeking information backed up with facts and sources which may prove or disprove what they are reading in their local newspaper or hearing on their television. They seek knowledge and information so a better future for America and the world remains possible.
These men and women continue an American tradition by fighting for peace, economic fairness, social justice, truth, and equality for all.