Ask a patriot, and they’ll tell you that the United States, like other countries, is built from a complicated web of ideas and values that have shaped the country since its very inception — freedom, equality and independence for all. Even though the “all” has never really included everyone, these values still supposedly take priority. Each year, we even celebrate when the U.S. first established these ideas as the guiding principles of our constitutional republic, on the day we declared our independence from Great Britain: the Fourth of July.

However, this year, as in previous years, emotions and tensions run high in conversations regarding the legacy of our nation and whether these supposed ideals have ever been adequately supported. With the recent overruling of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the long-standing debate around the merits of celebrating the Fourth of July has found its way back into the forefront of many Americans’ minds.

Issues arise with the thought of celebrating America considering that in 246 years of independence, we still haven’t managed to find the freedom, equality and independence for all that we purport to be our core philosophies. The most heavily touted value here is freedom — how can we call ourselves free when the guaranteed freedom of bodily autonomy has been stripped away from people with uteruses throughout the country?

55% of Americans identify as pro-choice, a majority across party lines. It feels like we’re taking a step backwards — when the majority of the country sees people with uteruses' freedoms being stripped away, what is there to celebrate?

At first glance, it feels like we have nothing to praise about this country on the Fourth of July. However, maybe the current political situation makes it the ideal time to honor our country — not for what it has done, but for how we know it can change. America is built on the principles of democracy, and while things may be bleak, one of the benefits of our system is the ability to advocate for change. Taking a firm look at the Fourth of July and celebrating how it represents a changing America might help move the current political discourse forward after the Roe v. Wade overruling.

Perhaps the correct term isn't to “celebrate” or “honor” the country: feelings of anger and injustice are at fever pitch right now, making that justifiably impossible for some. Rather, the Fourth of July presents an opportunity to reflect on what America is supposed to be and find ways to advocate for change so it can become the version it was supposed to be when the Declaration was drafted 246 years ago.

Observance of the holiday is a good excuse to regroup, refocus and gather with those you love after several days of intense and jarring news.

Elizabeth Secor is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at or on Twitter @esecor2003