"We hold these truths to be 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. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
-Declaration of Independence
"Patriotism and the Fourth of July" by Howard Zinn, a WWII bombardier and author of the best-selling "A People's History of the United States:"
In celebration of the Fourth of July there will be many speeches about the young people who "died for their country." But those who gave their lives did not, as they were led to believe, die for their country; they died for their government. The distinction between country and government is at the heart of the Declaration of Independence, which will be referred to again and again on July 4, but without attention to its meaning.
The Declaration of Independence is the fundamental document of democracy. It says governments are artificial creations, established by the people, "deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed," and charged by the people to ensure the equal right of all to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Furthermore, as the Declaration says, "whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it." It is the country that is primary--the people, the ideals of the sanctity of human life and the promotion of liberty.
"Bombs Bursting in Air" by Cindy Sheehan, mother of Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan, KIA 04/04/04, and co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace:
When I look at the star-spangled banner I think of my son who began wearing a uniform with the flag on it from the time he went into scouting at the age of 6. I also think of one of the last pictures taken of Casey when he was awaiting deployment to Iraq from Kuwait. He was standing in a tent holding a bottle of water, wearing his desert cammies with an American flag patch on the chest. When we buried him a few weeks after that picture was taken, I was handed a folded flag which reminded me of the swaddling blanket that I wrapped him in to bring him home from the hospital almost 25 years before.
The star-spangled banner, which I can now see whipping in the wind outside of an airport terminal where I am writing this from does not fill me with pride: it fills me with shame and that flag symbolizes sorrow and corruption to me right now. The flag represents so much lying, fixed elections, profiting by the war machine, high gas prices, spying on Americans, rapid erosion of our freedoms while BushCo literally gets away with murder, torture and extreme rendition, contaminating the world with depleted uranium, and illegal and immoral wars that are responsible for killing so many. A symbol which used to represent hope to so many around the world now fills so many with disgust.
When I look at that rectangular piece of cloth that has red and white stripes and white stars on a blue field, I wonder what the Iraqi people think when they see American tanks and other vehicles rumbling through their streets carrying doom with that symbol emblazoned upon them. Or, what could our flag possibly represent to them when their women are being raped and burned to conceal crimes and entire families are being killed by soldiers whose uniforms carry that symbol? I am sure that the flag symbolizes death and destruction to them which I hope they are not confusing with freedom and democracy.