Cartier: The United States of America is still the ‘shining city on the hill’ (column) | VailDaily.com

Cartier: The United States of America is still the ‘shining city on the hill’ (column)

Jacqueline Cartier
Valley Voices

This week, we celebrate American independence. We think of parades, hot dogs, fireworks and family fun. The community gathers in our common appreciation of all that we have and our pride in its achievement.

It's no wonder that people from around the globe stand in line to arrive, whether as visitors or future citizens. For all the complaints of our imperfection, people still want the opportunities that America offers. Yet we must remember that it didn't come free.

Many gave their lives for something that had been considered impossible. Even today, those who arrive pay a price for membership in a society that strives for the ideal and still offers this globe's best opportunity for achievement of dreams. Those of us lucky enough to have been born here must always remember those that came before us and the sacrifices they made.

American exceptionalism is the "great experiment" that has become the model by which others gauge their success. This formula for success and leadership are unequaled anywhere in the world: a place where innovation and accomplishment are only limited by the will and determination of its creator.

At a time when much of this country was barren and harsh, our forefathers came to this land with dreams of a better life. Natives and settlers alike made sacrifices to make this rugged but beautiful land a home for all. Many gave up all that they had, all that was familiar, to create the impossible for their children. Even those brought here unwillingly saw its potential and endured unimaginable hardships so their children would have lives they never thought possible for themselves.

Differences of religion, culture, race and heredity became our greatest strengths. Some arrived with just the clothes on their backs and a vision in their hearts. That vision created the greatest nation man has ever known.

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Many paid the ultimate price, and continue to do so today, so that others may breathe the air of freedom and greatness. We must honor that sacrifice and legacy by continuing the work of our ancestors, who did not receive our great nation as a gift but had to build it for themselves. Their goal was to create a nation of strength, character, prosperity, freedom and unity. It became the United States of America.

We must live our lives in a way that is worthy of the great blessings that have been bestowed upon us. With great blessings come great responsibilities. It is our responsibility to leave this nation to future generations in better shape than we encountered it. We must assure our children and grandchildren that the economic and environmental mistakes we have made will not be allowed to hinder their dreams, their ambitions, their security, their innovation, their way of life.

We must relight the flame of the American spirit and do the right thing, even when the sacrifices seem almost too much to bear. We must look into the eyes of our children and see the spirit of generations, and in honor of those who got us here, say, "Yes, you, too, will live the American dream, upon which our county was created."

In this time of challenge and turmoil, we must unify in our determination to succeed in the face of adversity. Partisan politics have taken over our country's better judgment and has given into our darker side. The American people are better than any talking point rhetoric. Despite policy disputes and disappointment in election results, our country has not only endured more but we have flourished, emerging stronger and more united.

Our faith must be in the spirit of our ancestors who had the foresight to create a framework that was designed to withstand the most challenging circumstances. Of late, that challenge seems to be the ability to remain civil and respectful of those with whom we disagree. Remember, there is more that unites us than divides us.

The best of our country's history is yet to be written. Our legacy to future generations must be one of courage, responsibility, commitment, and loyalty. American exceptionalism is alive and well. We will accept no barriers to success. The United States of America is still the "shining city on the hill," the country by which all others measure themselves, the greatest nation on earth. Happy Independence Day.

Jacqueline Cartier is a political and corporate consultant in Colorado and Washington, D.C. For further information, visit http://www.cartierwinningimages.com. She may be contacted at winningimages.cartier@gmail.com.