Fourth of July: Historian reflects on patriotism amid difficult year

Historian speaks on patriotism amid national unrest

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - This weekend the United States will celebrate the birth of American independence.

The 244th birthday of the country comes as Americans are weathering one of the most difficult years in recent memory.

A pandemic has claimed nearly 130,000 lives across the U.S., stripped tens of thousands of jobs, and the death of George Floyd sparked a national movement for equality and police reform.

Despite the division, historians say it’s a good moment to reflect on the country’s history.

“It’s important and realistic to acknowledge that we live in an imperfect country that has dealt with many flaws, it has been on the wrong side of history on occasions in our past, but it’s also true at the heart of the American experience is a forward-looking dedication to the expansion of rights and the guaranteeing of rights of people,” said Steve Murray, director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

Amid increasing difficulties facing the country, Murray says the ideals and values of the country are worth celebrating.

“I see it as an opportunity to celebrate what makes us strong and what makes that American spirit so special,” Murray said. “The Fourth of July is a great opportunity to maybe take a pause in some of the strife and take a breath and celebrate an awful lot of good things that have happened.”

The United States of America is still a young country, just shy of 250 years old, and is still one of the greatest experiments in history.

“In the grand sweep of human history internationally, we are still a young country,” he said. “We managed to lead in many ways, I think that what we want always to do is to try to remain a position of providing leadership and thinking about how we provide opportunities for people on an equitable basis, how we take care of the world around us and how to be sure that we’re here for the next 250 years.”

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