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Editorial: 'One of mankind's greatest achievements' remains worth celebrating

On or about this date, 243 years ago, Charles Carroll, for whom Carroll County is named, affixed his signature along with 55 others on a document containing fewer than 1,500 words that changed the course of world history. Our founders made it clear that it was time to dissolve the political bands which had previously connected America with Great Britain and laid out their reasoning for doing so as being self-evident, that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The anniversary of that signing became one of the most important days of every year. Henry Howard Paul, in his 1851 essay, "Fourth of July in the United States," wrote that Independence Day is: “A day when patriotism pops and bursts about like so many bottles of sillery ... and the patriotic, liberty-loving citizens of the United States set aside this day of every year to explode gunpowder by way of commemoration of the Declaration of Independence — the spirit of which document is still cherished with characteristic national fervor.”

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National fervor may be a stretch these days. Today, we take the Declaration of Independence for granted just as we take our nation for granted. And it is quite likely that fewer than usual will celebrate this Fourth of July. According to a Gallup poll released this week, just 47 percent of those polled report that they are “extremely proud to be Americans.” That is a record low for a poll that has been conducted annually since 2001. As recently as 15 years ago, fully 70 percent of those polled responded that they were “extremely proud.” The number plateaued at just under 60 percent for nearly a decade but has nosedived in recent years to where nearly half of respondents are no longer extremely proud.

Our political system, notably the current chasm between Right and Left, has been cited as the main reason our patriotism has dipped so. Of course, one of the divisive issues of the day — illegal immigration — should tell us something. Thousands of people throughout the world are willing to put their families at risk, their futures in jeopardy, their very lives on the line to try to make a new start in this country.

We have our flaws, of course. But we remain a nation worth celebrating. As Commentary's Noah Rothman recently wrote, “There is no political system on Earth that has proven itself so dedicated to the advancement of liberty — even to the detriment of social cohesion, cultural homogeneity, and political engagement. That's a true marvel, one of mankind's greatest achievements.” Indeed it is.

Regardless of your political affiliation, your thoughts on the current president or your level of pride in our country, we suggest that everyone remember why today is a national holiday. We officially declared our freedom 243 years ago and that is, without question, worth celebrating.

So don some red, white and blue. Partake in grilled burgers and hot dogs. Ooh and aah at the fireworks in Westminster at the Carroll County Farm Museum or in Manchester at the carnival grounds. And, most important, enjoy your time with family, friends, acquaintances and strangers — even those who might occupy a decidedly different spot on the political spectrum. It's our hope that days like the Fourth of July serve to remind us of what we have in common, not what divides us.

Then, on July 5, feel free to return to your heated arguments about politics and other subjects. Because, in this country, you can.

Have a happy and safe Independence Day.

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