Commentary: July 4th in sports recognizes America's greatness and constant endeavor to be even better

I’ll start tonight with my MVP of today’s Mariners game. 

It is this gentleman right here, a lieutenant colonel from World War II who turns 100 years old next week. Mr. Wes Pearl received a standing ovation – appropriately, on this day, more than any day, as we celebrate the anniversary of this country’s founding. 

There is nothing more American than a baseball game, and honoring one of the many heroes who sacrificed themselves for this country – so we can live in a free country. 

For a number of years recently, the sports world has been confronted with an ongoing debate about how certain athletes conduct themselves during the national anthem, and why they do so. Some interpret it as unpatriotic, others as simply a demonstration of the very freedoms Mr. Pearl and others, then and now, have fought to maintain  - the freedom to demonstrate displeasure with how things were or are, and their commitment for change.

And it reminds me, as a history major, of the very first words of our nation’s Constitution: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…."

Not a perfect Union. A *more* perfect Union. 

There has always been an admission that perfection is unattainable, but striving to be more perfect – or better – as a society, has been the goal. 

On July 4th – our nation’s anniversary – I celebrate the unimaginable bravery, will and strength demonstrated by millions of Americans over 245 years to maintain the fundamental freedoms we enjoy today. To live in a democracy where we can speak our truths and congregate in stadiums all across America to enjoy this country’s pastime everyday. 

But part of that is understanding that we are still – and will always be – a work in progress. A striving to be a "more perfect Union."

A country where activism from all directions might not always be viewed as patriotic. But – at least from the athletes I speak with – are intended to make this country more equitable for all. 

I think that’s why a moment like this today with Lieutenant Pearl are so important. And the singing of God Bless America in the 7th inning was so important. In a world that is currently filled with unimaginable atrocities, the citizens of this country are free - free to buy a ticket to a sporting event, free to enjoy fireworks, free to celebrate what makes this country better than any other in the world, but also free to voice displeasure with inequities and strive to make this country even better.

Call me an idealist – but that’s no different than the founders of our country. Because the ideals themselves – those words – still hold true two and a half centuries later.

That’s what I was reminded of today when I watched the Mariners game and saw Lieutenant Pearl, and stood and cheered for him just as loud as I did for Luis Torrrens’ three-run home run in the fourth inning.

Because we are incredibly lucky to be Americans. And we are lucky that the fundamental freedoms we enjoy also call for us to continue striving to be better every day, while understanding that we might never be perfect.


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