July is a month to remember – and celebrate – that American history is no myth

Written by Rick B. Larsen

July 3, 2019

Like most Utahns, I grew up attending the Days of ’47 Parade. But I had a distinct advantage – Aunt Myrtle’s porch. She lived along the parade route. And I always felt bad for people who had to compete for places to set up their lawn chairs. That porch seemed to be made for me and my brothers; it provided the shade and ice cream that made the festivities even better.

I always loved July – the barbecues, the patriotic tributes and the traditions. But it was not until I was 15 years old and invited to be on a float in the parade that I realized how special this celebration really is. From that vantage point, I could look into the faces of what seemed an endless sea of onlookers and celebrants, I realized in a different way, how important it was and how blessed we were, to be able to gather – to celebrate – to remember.

July is also the anniversary month of pivotal Civil War events, most notably the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. It would not be until November of that year that the Gettysburg Address was delivered – 272 words that still inspire Americans today and guide the efforts of the Sutherland team. It was in that speech that President Abraham Lincoln called for a New Birth of Freedom –the slogan that Sutherland has adopted. Lincoln made this call because he saw both the durability and the fragile nature of our freedom.

The events we all celebrate were long ago. The accumulation of time is unstoppable, but quite optional is the relegation of this sacred history to lore, legend and to a dismissive term that I take exception with – “the mythology of America.”

American history is no myth.

It is a true story of courage and fear; of strength and weakness; of perfect valor demonstrated by imperfect patriots. It is the chronicle of generations who saw into the future and dared to challenge the norms of centuries past. That struggle and refinement would be part of so grand a vision is a testament to their character, not a diminution of their worthiness.

This Fourth (and month) of July, along with the fireworks, parade and observances, let us highly resolve to honor and protect our costly freedoms – not on the field of battle – but in our communities, schools and homes.

In our communities – love your neighbor. We must learn to disagree in a manner that does not feed contempt and division.

In our classrooms – yes, teach the history of this nation through the eyes of the oppressed – but not to the exclusion of history through the eyes of the original patriots. Tell both sides of the story, and tell them fairly. Do not allow our proud history, and the sacrifices of so many, to be dismissed as the efforts of men and women too flawed to be respected. As Lincoln cautioned, “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.”

In our homes, may we teach our children to be grateful for the miracle of freedom and honor those who defend it.

May we humbly recognize the greatness – the miracle – of this nation and republic. It is unlike any other nation the world has ever known. To acknowledge such is not an arrogant boast – it is an aspiration. It is the acceptance of the responsibility that we here highly resolve – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

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