Americans celebrate the Fourth of July holiday with barbecues, parades, parties, and fireworks. The American flag is unfurled and hung proudly along with bunting. It’s a festive occasion, but amid the revelry, do we Americans stop to think about what it means?
I’ve always liked the term Independence Day. It has multiple meanings. It’s not solely about celebrating this nation’s birth and its independence from England. It’s about the larger freedoms we enjoy. As writers, we should thank the Founding Fathers (and Mothers) for the wisdom to include the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution. The freedom of speech and expression that is Constitutionally guaranteed to American citizens does not exist in many parts of the world. Our citizens have never known political oppression and tyranny. Americans can write or say anything they want about our President, Congress, state lawmakers and town officials. Even if the opinions expressed are vitriolic and ignorant, people have a right to express them. And that’s as it should be.
Fiction writing is a forum for the great marketplace of ideas. On this Independence Day, as we celebrate the birth of a nation, let’s give thanks for the freedoms embodied in the First Amendment and hope these will someday be enjoyed by citizens throughout the world.