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Del. Ken Plum: Happy July 4!

by Karen Goff July 2, 2015 at 3:15 pm 10 Comments

Del. Ken Plum/File photoOur national holiday the Fourth of July, or Independence Day, is known for fireworks, parades, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions and of course retail sales.

In the midst of all of our “Red, White, and Blue” festivities, we need to remind ourselves that the Fourth is about the celebration of freedom as expressed in the Declaration of Independence.

While we tend to forget the list of grievances we as colonists had against the Mother Country that are enumerated in the Declaration, almost everyone remembers its most significant message: all men are created equal and have certain rights that can’t be taken away–life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Everyone recognizes that the statement was aspirational; specifically it did not include women or slaves who made up a significant percentage of the population in the South.

The history of our country has been a movement towards realizing the liberties that are associated with the Fourth of July. The great compromisers who put together the Constitution and its Bill of Rights could not resolve the contradictions in our stated goal and the practices of society. It took a civil war and hundreds of thousands of deaths to free the slaves and another century of struggle to extend civil rights to persons of color.

Recently, we were starkly reminded of how far we still need to go to expunge racism from our society. The horrific massacre of nine people at a Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina, puts into focus the extent to which some people are willing to go with their Confederate flag and symbols to glorify a conflict that was about a segment of society that was willing to go to war.

They fought to keep their ability to take away life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as well as the property of others. The Civil War was not about states’ rights; it was about people who wanted to continue a lifestyle and economy on the backs of their slaves which the southern states were willing to allow. If any “rights” were lost in the Civil War, it was a mistaken notion that one should have a right to discriminate against others. The Confederate battle flags need to go down, and our work to end racism needs to intensify.

The Fourth of July was followed in our history by a long list of men and women who worked hard to extend the promises of the Declaration of Independence to everyone. Their work is paying off with the results we saw last week in the Supreme Court decisions on marriage, health care and housing.

Our celebration of the event that happened a long time ago needs this year as much as ever to include a commitment to work for freedom for all, to reject hate and divisions, and to ensure that the inalienable rights of all men and women to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are enjoyed in this country.

Ken Plum represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. His opinion does not reflect that of Reston Now.

  • Cluster Tycoon

    The Yankees have been very patient with the rebels and so far no incidents, that said no other country let’s the defeated party fly their flag. I love the Southern people with all my heart but that loser flag needs to go.

  • Guy Montag

    Thank goodness we had the right to bear arms, could you imagine how hard it would have been to defeat the British with words?

  • Ming the Merciless

    The Fourth of July is about freedom!

    Except for all the nasty things Ken Plum hates — those should all be taken away, in the name of freedom, or something.

    This incoherent message was brought to you by your eternally re-elected and eternally-ineffective state legislator.

  • William Wallace

    FREEDOM FOR ALL! The freedom to marry goats, the freedom to marry multiple random people of all ages! The freedom for citizens of Uruguay and Bolivia! Free money, food, and education for anyone who can find a PO Box in this fair land! Huzzah!

  • Mike M

    Karen, did you censor my opus? Why?

    • Karen Goff

      no. it’s there.

      • Mike M

        TY! That was quick. You ever sleep?

  • DudeWheresMyCar

    I’m not sure how you jumped to the premise of your opus based on that statement. I read no “anit-americanism”, but I suppose some enjoy riding the Ken bashing bandwagon without basis.
    The fact is, there still is a lot of racism in our society, whether it be BoW or WoN, it doesn’t matter, we as a people have a long way to go. The cause of the racism is the ignorance of individuals to embrace tolerance, its continuance is due to the ignorance of others to recognize its presence.

    • Mike M

      Even if you were correct, and I believe your are not, do you go to a friend’s birthday party and take the opportunity to note that which you do not like about them? It’s obscene.

      As for racism in the States, WoB version has become wholly unfashionable. What Ken is doing, besides being a nattering nabob of negativity contributes to BoW. It’s disgusting.

      You don’t see Anti-americanism because you probably regularly indulge in the same..

  • Chuck Morningwood

    On this Fourth of July, it is important to remember what was important to those souls who were struggling for our freedom from Britain. In that spirit, I’m lifting my glass of beer letting out a loud “… You and the horse you rode in on, Britain!”

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