Enjoy your July 4 for all right reasons

The familiar painting depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence portrays a tranquil setting full of confidence, self-assurance and self-fulfillment — a setting lacking doubts about the prospects for a bright future for the new nation.

But now, 241 years to the day since the Founders affixed their signatures to that great document, it’s understood by most Americans that those courageous individuals harbored deep-rooted anxieties and great inner fears about what might lie ahead.

And, all of the uncertainties proved correct, as this land became embroiled in the Revolutionary War, a fight against the British that tested the resolve of those who took a stand on behalf of freedom from what was then an oppressive motherland.

But, in the end, liberty prevailed, although victory in the American Revolution could not ensure that the now-free nation would not have to endure many more trials, going forward.

Unfortunately, trials have continued to this day, and this nation probably will be challenged by internal and external forces as long as America exists.

Fortunately, many millions of brave, loyal Americans — people of all walks of life — have, for nearly 2¢ centuries, enabled this country to build on what the Founders created when they bravely signed their names to the Declaration.

The successes of those Americans over 2¢ centuries should inspire confidence that patriotism, bravery and determination like what existed in 1776 will continue to be trademarks of this great nation forevermore.

Today, during celebrations marking this important national holiday, it’s important to reflect on this country’s beginnings and understand that on the issue of independence, living free from England was not an opinion that was unanimous among the people living on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

There was much dissent cultivated by fear and uncertainty. Fear and uncertainty remain even today, as divisive issues continue to test the will and strength of the citizenry.

But residing amid that divisiveness should be a deeply held faith that sometime, some way, what is tearing at us will be eradicated, and that a spirit of patriotic harmony will return — preparing the nation for its next challenge, whatever that might be.

There’s much to think about today, but there’s also so much cause to be thankful for, as a free nation.

Those who hate America hate this country because of its strength and successes.

They would like to be like us, but they do not have the understanding, courage, commitment to peace and the leadership to enable them to thrust aside their hatreds and live alongside people who might not be exactly like themselves — but nonetheless have the capacity to be good neighbors, if they were allowed to be.

Be thankful that our challenges aren’t like theirs. Be thankful that we can look ahead to Independence Day 2018, knowing that America has the power, strength and commitment to meet any challenge, no matter the day-to-day issues and differences that confront its people.

Indeed, celebrate today, confidently and safely. Display the American Flag proudly. Participate in community events marking the holiday.

Don’t be reluctant to extend a hand or greeting to someone who might hold different opinions.

Independence Day is a great holiday. Enjoy it for all the right reasons that it so proudly represents.