Many of us remember the bicentennial celebration, the 200th birthday of the United States, back in 1976. It was big.
Everything was decked out in red, white, and blue. Children painted fire hydrants to look like minutemen and minutewomen. Betsy Ross flags fluttered from porches of many family homes and businesses. Towns held parades.
The parade of tall ships from New York Harbor up the Hudson River captured the attention of the nation. I recall asking myself in those days of celebration: “Will I be around for the 250th birthday?”
It is likely that I will. And most of you, too, now that it is only three years away.
Each year we recall our nation’s founders’ declaration of independence from Great Britain. The document, read publicly throughout the land in the days and weeks after their gathering in Philadelphia, states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
But not all men – or women – have been treated equally during the past 247 years. Nor are all treated equally today.
They say that what happened that day – July 4, 1776 – was the beginning of an experiment. An experiment to establish the world’s first democratic republic. And the experiment is not done. The founders left the work to their successors. They left the work to us.
May each passing year draw us closer to living in a nation where all are, in fact, treated equally. If we arrive at that point on July 4, 2026, we will truly have something to celebrate.
By Monsignor Thomas Orsulak, pastor of St. Peter the Apostle, Reading, and regional priest coordinator of Hispanic Ministry for Berks, Carbon, and Schuylkill deaneries.