President Joe Biden spoke on American greatness at a White House celebration for Independence Day on Sunday.
“Today, we celebrate America; our freedom, our liberty, our independence,” Biden said with optimism to a crowd of around 1,000 guests—mostly essential workers and military families—gathered on the South Lawn of the White House to celebrate the national holiday.
“The Fourth of July is a sacred day in our country. A day of history, of hope, remembrance and resolve, of promise and possibilities.”
The president said that America is a unique country where independence of thought has allowed the birth of a nation that continually strives toward Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of “a promised land” where equality as “endowed by their Creator” is not only an aspiration but a reality.
“Think about this, one of the great gifts [of the spirit of independence] is our capacity to see ourselves whole and see ourselves honestly,” the president said. “What we’ve gotten right, what we’ve gotten wrong. It’s a measure of the greatness of America. We are a great nation.
“We don’t seek to bury the wrongs, we face it. We work to make it right,” he said of the American way of transparency, self improvement, and renewal.
“While we’ve never fully lived up to those words, we have never given up on them. They continue to animate us,” he said. “And they remind us that at our best, we as Americans believe in honesty and decency, in treating everyone with dignity and respect, giving everyone a fair shot, demonizing no one, giving hate no safe harbor, and leaving no one behind.
“We lead by the power of our example, not the example of our power. And we’re part of something so much bigger than ourselves. We stand as a beckon to the world.”
Biden praised the ideal of American equality, which historically has stood in contrast to the equality of outcome seen other countries like communist China, as the “most powerful idea in the history of the world.”
“We’re all equal, created equal. It was written a long time ago,” he said while describing it as a “timeless” American creed that unites Americans.
“The genius is that every generation of Americans has expanded it wider and wider, to include those who were excluded before. That’s why it’s never gathered dust in our history books. It’s still alive today, alive in our hearts, alive in the work of our hands, alive not only in the history we read, but in the history we’re making.”
‘We Have To Fight for It’
But his speech wasn’t all upbeat. Biden also noted to his fellow Americans they he believes it is up to “every American” to “fight” for democracy and their way of life.
“The defense of all that we love doesn’t fall on your shoulders alone,” he said in remarks directed to military families as he thanked them for their service and sacrifice.
“Each day, we are reminded there’s nothing guaranteed about our democracy, there’s nothing guaranteed about our way of life. We have to fight for it, defend it, earn it.”
Democrats and Republicans have differing perceptions of the problems facing American’s voting systems, with Democrats claiming that Republican objections to mail-in voting are efforts to suppress votes, and Republicans claiming that mail-in voting presents too big a risk of vote tampering.
Return to Normalcy
Biden also acknowledged that while “America is coming back together,” the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus hasn’t been defeated yet. He touted “science” and COVID-19 vaccines as the solution that will see lawmakers enact policies in which the virus “no longer controls our lives.” He urged people to get vaccinated as a “patriotic” action to ward against the virus.
Just over 50 percent of the population have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Concerned about spread of the Delta variant, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced before the event that the White House would require all guests to be tested a few days beforehand and that those who were not fully vaccinated would need to wear masks.
His administration had been saying in previous months that it hoped by Independence Day Americans could see something like a return to normalcy, when friends and family would be gathered for the national holiday. Biden said in his speech that this year, the Fourth of July was “a day of special celebration” where Americans were back out on the streets, in arenas and stadiums cheering their favorite sports teams, with grandparents hugging their grandchildren, and businesses open and hiring again.
The White House theme for the holiday weekend, “America’s Back Together,” aligned with a television campaign by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in the past week that declared that the country is coming back.
The DNC also announced plans to fly planes over beaches in Wisconsin, Georgia, South Carolina, and parts of Florida with banners saying “America’s back together thanks to Biden and Democrats.”
Biden also continued his calls for unity.
“You know, history tells us, when we stand together, when we unite in common cause, when we see ourselves not as Republicans or Democrats but as Americans, then there’s simply no limit to what we can achieve.”
However, Democrats in Congress and appointees of the Biden administration have been criticized for a continued lack of bipartisanship and few opportunities to build political unity, with senators pushing numerous bills through both houses of Congress with little Republican support, and a recent move by the Department of Justice to review the need for a Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021 that many Republicans say is biased toward supporters of former President Donald Trump involved in the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.