Today is Canada Day, the national day of Canada. It celebrates the anniversary of July 1, 1867, when the Constitution Act united three separate colonies into a single Dominion called Canada.
This Saturday, July 4th, is the Independence Day for the United States of America. Both celebrations will be a bit different this year. Due to Corona Virus, large celebrations complete with fireworks, parades, bands, food will not be happening. And yet, these days have special meaning to citizens in 2020. Canadians and Americans will still celebrate with family and friends.
Some of you know that I live in Tulsa, OK. Two weeks ago, the eyes of the world focused on Tulsa as President Trump paid a visit to our city to hold a campaign rally. Emotions for and against the gathering ran high. It happened the same weekend as Juneteenth and was originally scheduled for June 19, which is the exact date of the "Juneteenth" celebration. I've lived in Tulsa for years, have attended Juneteenth celebrations, but never knew the origin. Lest I come across as ignorant, neither did my African American neighbor. It celebrates the day emancipation news reached Texas two years after President Lincoln signed the original bill. When he was advised of this, President Trump moved his rally one day later out of courtesy.
So here's the point: That weekend in Tulsa, we had Juneteenth, we had a Black Lives Matter Rally, a Rally for Peace at Veteran's Park, President Trump's rally AND, (only in Oklahoma!) a gun show. Facebook was live with "we will burn Tulsa". Stores boarded up miles from the venue anticipating the trouble called for by social media.
All groups came, all groups rallied, all groups participated in
peaceful discourse. Except for a few shouting matches, we all got along. Freedom of speech and the right to peacefully gather are fundamental American rights. In light of all the destruction and looting that has taken place lately in some of America's larger cities, Tulsa showed the world that all sides can have a voice: all sides can expound on their opinions. PEACEFULLY. We may not all agree with one another, but we will defend the right to speak out. Then, we'll all go have a beer together.
Despite what you may hear on the main news channels, most average people just want to live in peace, they want freedom, they want to care for their families, they want a better future for their children.
Two years ago I was in Pakistan working with broadcasters when President Trump made the announcement that the US Embassy was moving to Jerusalem. He was not the first president to promise this: so had Obama, George W. Bush and Clinton. He was just the first to do it. What news channels we could see in Islamabad showed riots in the streets in Pakistan. Our state department ordered us to stay in our hotel. Did we? No. We went to the Faisal Mosque, the largest mosque in Pakistan. And when we got there, we were welcomed, given the tour, invited back. No sign of riots. In fact, one Pakistani told us,
"I wish the Pakistani and Indian governments would settle their differences. I have cousins in India and can't get a visa to go visit them." Did I mention that the average person just wants to live in peace, enjoy freedom, care for their families and give their children a better future? Wherever I have been, these sentiments are present.
I have not meant to be political with this newsletter. I rather mean it to be a celebration of great countries and peace-loving individuals everywhere. And, every country I have visited has wonderful things to share with visitors. Every person I have worked with loves their country, warts and all.
Beyond all the name calling, beyond all the unrest, beyond what you see on the nightly news, there are people, families, neighborhoods. And, these people will be celebrating this 1st and 4th. My backyard grill is cranked up. My small circle of friends are invited. We will enjoy the day, even six feet apart.