A statement from General President Walter Wise on the celebration of Independence Day in the United States (July 4) and Canada Day in Canada (July1).
Whether it is Independence Day in the United States on July 4 or Canada Day in Canada on July 1, these holidays invoke a feeling of gratitude for those who have defended our freedom and liberties throughout the years. We feel both prideful and patriotic for what we have accomplished since our nations’ foundings.
Patriotism, as defined, is a belief in defending our country and its way of life. We all acknowledge and agree when this applies to supporting our men and women of the armed services who so gallantly defend our nations. We respect and thank them for their sacrifice and service. It is defending our way of life that takes on the broader implications of the economy, personal freedoms and the quality of life that we need to support just as fervently as our troops.
Is our way of life not threatened when the unlimited resources of corporations are given the same rights as individuals in the legislative and political process? That is what the Citizens United Supreme Court case has allowed. Adopting laws drafted by the Koch brothers that erode workers’ rights is not the vision of our Founding Fathers.
Is our way of life not threatened when stagnant wages drive more families into poverty, diminishing the opportunities for future generations? Since 1979, the average pre-tax income for the bottom 90 percent of households has decreased by $900, while that of the top one percent has increased by over $700,000. Surely, our Constitution did not intend for 93 percent of our nation’s wealth to rest in the hands of the top fifteen percent.
Is our way of life not threatened when our native industries are outsourced and those that remain are forced to compete with the government-subsidized goods of China? Overwhelming majorities of people from all political parties say they support “Buy America” policies. We are a nation “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
As you celebrate our founding among families, friends, ball games, hamburgers and hot dogs, remember that we have fought to ensure our way of life for all. We should demonstrate our patriotism, not just on anniversaries, but every time we reach into our pockets.
Our best wishes to all for a safe and happy holiday. Thank you for helping to build our great Union.