as the neighborhood continues to explode with illegal fireworks, this arrived in my emailbox:

Happy Independence Day,

This year’s 4th of July feels quite different. I’m thinking about the ways in which our ideals of independence and patriotism relate to what we’re now experiencing: a public health pandemic and a national movement against racial injustice.

The ongoing nationwide protests to end the systemic racism that has existed since before America’s birth should remind us that when it comes to achieving true freedom, we have much more work to do.

On this day in which we celebrate our independence from a tyrannical government, I think it’s all the more important that we recognize, celebrate, and protect every American’s right to peacefully protest for changes to make this a more perfect union.

As our country faces a surge in COVID-19 cases and continues to struggle with this ongoing public health crisis, the notion of freedom can take another turn. For this president, taking the safe and necessary precautions to keep ourselves and our fellow Americans safe, like wearing a mask in public, has become a political weapon. Wearing a mask is not a loss of freedom; in this moment, it is a simple yet essential way to unite against the spread of this deadly disease and protect one another.

And as the president continues to demean peaceful protesters, he encouraged thousands of people to attend a flashy fireworks display at Mount Rushmore, in spite of the surge of more than 50,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day. That’s not patriotism.

To me, true patriotism is fighting for what is right and doing right by your fellow Americans. Speaking out against racism or marching for a criminal justice system that protects and serves everyone. Following medical professionals’ guidance, wearing a mask, and social distancing to stop the spread of disease and help our country recover from this global crisis. Those are examples of patriotism in 2020.

I hope you and your loved ones have a safe and healthy holiday weekend as we continue to reflect and put in the work — together — to overcome our challenges and strengthen our American values of freedom and justice for all.

Cory

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