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Our View: Happy Fourth!

Flag, voting are emblematic of freedom

This year’s Fourth of July weekend adds to the return of holiday social gatherings that were missing during the Year of COVID-19. The opportunity to gather safely with friends and family to celebrate could not be more welcome.

Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said those who are vaccinated need not, in most circumstances, wear masks, some epidemiologists are more cautious and still recommend masks in cramped indoor quarters. But that shouldn’t put a damper on things, considering the Fourth is usually celebrated outdoors. Go ahead, gather ’round the grill!

In recognition of the Fourth of July and why it exists, please take a few minutes to reflect on how fortunate Americans are. The past year has been marked by the tragic loss of more than 600,000 from COVID-19 and thousands more are dealing with its medical aftermath. Those tragedies will continue to a greater degree than they must because so many people are still refusing vaccination.

So, we lament our nation’s tragedy, yes, and significant racial inequities, absolutely, and the fact that the wealthy are doing so much better in this economy than those whose assets are limited and who are living small paycheck to small paycheck.

Yet all of that is taking place in a country that remains one of the most desirable in the world, in which opportunity still abounds. In the news are stories of the individuals who are rethinking their employment, where they might find more enjoyment, advancement and a better salary from what they do for eight hours a day. Some are taking time out to consider what comes next, and perhaps exploring how they might work at something completely different than they have. How many places in the world offer that extraordinary opportunity?

And as we celebrate our nation this weekend, please remember that America’s flag belongs to everyone. This weekend it is flying along city streets, on front porches, and in the hands of veterans and youngsters lining parade routes. It is not a political symbol attached to either major political party or people of any particular persuasion. All of us who love this country are patriots who can claim the stars and stripes as our own. Take a moment to really look at the flag and give it a nod, remembering all the Americans who have come before us and made sacrifices to ensure our security and freedom.

Just as the flag belongs to us all, so does the ballot box. There is nothing more critical to a democracy than the ability of everyone to vote. After the November election, which showed no evidence of voter fraud, there can be no reason to put hurdles in the way of those who want to vote. Voting by mail, the use of drop boxes and Sunday voting in some states has added greatly to turnout with no indication of illegalities. We’re all for states’ rights, but not when legislatures pass laws aimed at preventing certain groups of citizens from participating in elections.

We hope the courts see through attempts to do so and put a stop to it, and we wholeheartedly encourage anyone who can to volunteer in voter registration and in the election process to ensure that all Americans can cast their ballots. We are grateful that our state has not attempted to pass laws restricting voter access. May that continue.

Enjoy the Fourth of July weekend, but please – take at least a moment to reflect on how fortunate we are to live in the United States.

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