These days our nation can seem more divided than ever, whether over political ideology, social issues or racial and economic differences. But we hold in common certain core values as Americans, and Independence Day offers us a chance to come together to celebrate those ideals and reflect on how we might form a more perfect union.
In Charlotte, we have a special place to celebrate our nation’s shared values of liberty, democracy and citizenship – the 1774 Hezekiah Alexander “Rock House.” Hezekiah Alexander’s family members were early immigrants to the American colonies. His great-grandfather came from Ireland in the 1670s. Years later, the younger Alexander would rebel against King George III and would become known as an American patriot. His house – in what is now east Charlotte – stands as a living artifact to the era of enlightenment ideology, revolutionary politics, immigration and awakening that formed our nation.
This Fourth of July, The Charlotte Museum of History will host an event sacred to our republic – a naturalization ceremony in which more than 20 people from all over the world will take the oath to become United States citizens. It’s the culmination of a years-long process for them. And more than 240 years after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, this ceremony is a powerful testament to the strength and singularity of our democratic system of government. (The museum’s free celebration takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday at 3500 Shamrock Drive, with the naturalization ceremony at 11 a.m.)
All citizens, whether born in this country or naturalized according to the law, energize our republic with their differing experiences, ideas and perspectives. Precious few Americans are not migrants to this land or descendants of migrants. The success and struggle of those millions of immigrants have made our republic, together with the experience of the native peoples who came before them. No matter their country of origin, nor their native tongue, these new citizens adopt the rights and responsibilities of United States citizenship. In the shadow of the house of Hezekiah Alexander, an American patriot, the museum is proud to host this rejuvenation of the American republic.
In supporting our brothers and sisters as they take the oath and finally become citizens of our United States, we join to praise the core beliefs that bind us together – the divinely inspired rights our government is designed to protect, including the freedom from oppression and injustice, the sacred independence of mind and body, and above all, the right to be who we are meant to be. The centrifugal forces of variety and disparity that often rip apart other societies are held to the American center by the pull of these shared values. The Charlotte Museum of History celebrates Independence Day through a festival of our American identity.