OPINION — Remembering those who bravely stood their ground before the then-oppressive British monarchy of the 18th century is worth celebrating. Let anyone and everyone who loves this land also consider where we are now as a nation and think clearly so we may strengthen the America we’ve now become since that time.

Some of the wooden American flags Jason Shuck is creating and donating to veterans, police officers and firefighters, St. George , Utah, May 15, 2023 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

Since the 1770s, we’ve now become the logical outcome of the ideas original Patriots set into motion. With the exception of indigenous peoples whose lands were taken from them, each one of us is an immigrant, our ancestors coming here seeking liberty and justice for all. They came seeking freedom from terrible oppression and brought with them diverse cultures and attitudes. What ensured this freedom was and continues to be the promise of America.

With so many people who have arrived to make America what it is today, ours is a nation much more nuanced and complex compared with the America the 1770s Patriots lived in. We are forever grateful for their bravery and commitment, but they were people just like us. Before we place them on too high of a pedestal it’s important to examine our history clearly and carefully.

Americans of the 1770s applied little objective analyses regarding accepted cultural and religious ideology. The fight for freedom did not extend benefits and freedoms to everyone such as Ancestral Americans, slaves, women and indentured servants. Largely accepted and embedded church teachings and beliefs made comfortable room for slavery. Patriots held enslaved, abused and tortured people who were literally counted as less than one whole person. Women could not vote or own land while married. They could not go to a university. They could not earn equal wages, something that is still an issue today. Women could not enter many professions. The list goes on.

(L-R) Mark Woodbury, Anthony Moore, Valerie King and Jeff McKenna pose for a photo during the America 250-Teachers Appreciation event at Southern Utah Veterans Home, Aug. 8, 2023 | Photo courtesy of Valerie King, Color Country Chapter DAR, St. George News

We have improved on many of these issues, yet we still battle to maintain so many hard-fought and won freedoms. The term Patriot cannot be allowed to be the province of only those whose beliefs closely match our own. Nor can it be of those who claim to be the only true Americans because of their worldview and personal beliefs. The American way has always been a whirling blender of ideas, peoples, innovations and hard work.

Our collective strength lies in the freedom enjoyed by our diverse cultures and our aspiration to liberty and justice for all, even if it is not always well practiced. It is that idea the rest of the world has fiercely admired for the past 260 years. America rang the bell of freedom and now here we all are, this is us. Red, White, Black, Brown, Yellow, LGBTQ+, you name it.

As a nation of immigrants and cultures of vast differences and beliefs, we must continue to recognize that most of us who live here now love this land, and believe in democracy and the dignity of fellow humans regardless of those differences. If we choose to regard fellow Americans as “the others,” the sound of the Liberty Bell begins to fade and the sacrifices of the 1770s Patriots are diminished. If we are who we say we are, then as Patriots we collectively bear a responsibility. That responsibility means we do not allow ourselves to become so frustrated with our elected leaders and laws that we empower an authoritarian style of government just so actions that affect all Americans can be implemented without accountability.

We can’t afford to mistakenly think making that decision will result in us feeling OK about our country again. Neither can we allow the enabling of unchecked presidential power. America shook off the bonds of kings and dictators that held the rest of the world for so long. There has never been a time we have not been engaged in the work of making a more perfect union. Let’s not stop now.

We owe a massive debt to those Patriots of the 1770s. They believed in democracy and ensured that we got it. We must now make sure we keep it. If we choose authoritarianism and call it Patriotism, we may find ourselves disallowed from the one thing which, flawed as it is, has always made our nation great. Namely, the will of the people democratically achieved. Likely we would not regain any semblance of democracy any time soon, perhaps not ever.

Submitted by TIM PFEIFFER, New Harmony

Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.