President Abraham Lincoln

July 4th observances and St. Mark’s biblical adage “A house divided against itself cannot stand” have much in common. They both remind us of unity.

For example, in fighting England’s tyranny, the U.S. colonies united in a coordinated front and without that bond, they wouldn’t have reached their common goal.

To be sure, in founding our nation, the historical record shows that sharp disagreements led to considerable hostility among the patriots. Yet, after extensive debate, leaders united in their communal aim and is the reason we now observe July 4th, U.S. Independence Day.

In truth, unity is often cited in our nation’s long history of democracy, echoing as a bugle call to alert citizens across state lines of impending dangers. The most prominent national leader to employ the house-divided threat to launch his public service career was Abraham Lincoln. He used the basic philosophy to defend the Union through the Civil War, our country’s worst chaotic episode. The call for unity has resonated during other times of trouble – world wars, economic calamities, and natural disasters.

In remembering our nation’s independence, we must reflect on the fact that we’ve accomplished a redeeming reputation around the world. Freedom-loving countries throughout the globe have long known where to go to seek help. They know we will positively respond, whether it’s quick delivery of aid due to natural disasters, such as, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, or in the timely rebuilding of the affected areas.

Sadly, we live in a time where “states’ rights” disharmony talk threatens our federation because it disrupts our harmony as a nation. Unfortunately, negative comments toward the “Feds” occupy much of certain politicians’ time, particularly here in Texas, a state with a notorious track record in the equal protection of all its citizens.

Here’s a blunt eye opener – Texas used “states’ rights” to openly discriminate against Mexican descent Texans since 1848. That was, until in a true “checks and balances” method, the U.S. Supreme Court (The Feds) directed Texas in 1954 to stop its blatant state-wide discrimination practices against its Mexican-descent citizens.

As an aside, try to imagine having to fight WWII and face the Axis Powers with each state doing its own thing. Hopefully, all agree that it’s an absurd scenario. Alas, it’s clear that the general public today needs a gentle reminder; and so the following is offered to describe what it means to be the United States of America.

Our great military might originates from countless connected pockets of patriotism throughout our country. When Gen. Pershing led the American Expeditionary Force into Europe during WWI, his army did not just contain members from his birth state of Missouri, but rather it included soldiers from nearly every point in the Union. When Sergeant Alvin York won his Medal of Honor for bravery in France, he did not win it for his home state (Tennessee), but rather, the U.S.A.

Likewise for Private David Cantú Barkley, Laredo, Texas, who earned the Medal of Honor for WWI bravery that cost him his life. You can be sure that David’s was a truly selfless act as a steadfast member of the U.S. Army.

Corporal Ira Hayes from Sacatón, Arizona helped raise the U.S. flag over Iwo Jima. As he did so, he was not only representing his brave Pima heritage, he was wearing the honorable uniform of the U.S. Marine Corps.

World War II’s U.S. Army Pvt. José M. López lends still another aspect to the diverse ranks of our military force, symbolizing the different colors in our flag. Born in Santiago Ihuitlån, Oaxaca, Mexico, he moved to Brownsville, Texas as a young boy. Answering the call to serve his adopted country, he earned the Medal of Honor for battlefield bravery in Europe.

Even in our moments of leisure, unity is all around us. When we cheer for our favorite national sports team, let’s remember that each team has players originating from nearly every region. Too, it’s very likely that most of us have close relatives living in several other states. Thus, our family connections serve as threads on what can only be called the largest tapestry of many colors in the world.

So, what’s the Bottom line? Above all, July 4th is the time of year that celebrates the federal government (Washington, D.C.) in its most basic form. So, let’s ignore defeatist talk of states’ rights, secession, and distrust of the federal government.

Indeed, this July 4th, give a heartfelt “Thank you for your service” salute to every “Fed” you know. After all, they’re our grandparents, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and neighbors.

They include our kin wearing a U.S. military uniform, DOD federal civilians, law enforcement officers, IRS, social security, elected officials, and U.S. Postal Service. There are countless others who provide myriad services to ensure the well-being of our citizens and most importantly, ensure that our 50-state union stays together; linked as a great Federal family.
In the words my mother taught me when I was a child, “La union es la fuerza” (unity is strength). Said another way, E pluribus unum (Out of many, one). We have established a solid reputation as a free nation and achieved greatness together as a union of fifty United States and several allied states, such as Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. As each of us celebrates in our own way, though, please especially remember our fellow U.S. citizen Native Americans and their contributions.

Finally, next time you look at the U.S. flag, observe that our “stars and stripes” does not only have one lone star, but 50 stars standing sharply as in military formation. “Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno” (One for all, all for one). Truly, Saint Mark’s advice to humanity simply tells us the following: a house divided won’t stand. A team divided won’t win. A country divided won’t succeed. Happy July Fourth everybody!