06/26/2015 04:57 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

America Becomes More 'American'


Today, America became more American, in the best sense of that word. When we celebrate Independence Day a week from Saturday, we can rejoice that our nation has moved closer to the ideals upon which it was founded than it has been on any previous Fourth of July. When Jefferson and the other drafters of the Declaration of Independence wrote the truly revolutionary words "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness," they did not have a very inclusive definition of the "men" they were proclaiming had been created equal. Many of them were slaveholders who did not include people of African ancestry among "all men." Few of them included women in "all men." And it is likely that none of them had homosexuals in mind as being among those who are equal.

Today, though, those words of our forebears ring truer than they ever have before. All of us are now equal before the law and free to "pursue happiness" as we see fit.

When Langston Hughes wrote his wonderful poem "Let America Be America Again," in 1935, America was not "America" to him, but he said:

America never was America to me,

And yet I swear this oath--

America will be!

America, very obviously, is still not "America." But today we got a little closer to the day when "America will be!"