While the Fourth of July holiday is often associated with fireworks and parades, this anniversary commemorates a day of intrinsic value for our nation. On July 4, 1776, the second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence that officially announced the thirteen American colonies to be independent states. Since that time, the United States of America has evolved into a vibrant democracy thanks to the hard work and dedication of those who came before us.
In truly successful democracies, all citizens are involved in the care, growth and support of a nation. Some have suggested that today's citizens are losing their ability to work with others across differences and build solutions together. In fact, the Department of Education recently commissioned a national call to action, titled "A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy's Future," which encourages institutions of higher education to develop critical-minded and civically-engaged students who will remain active citizens throughout their lives.
How can our nation move beyond political banter, beyond the blazers and buttons, to forge a more purposeful role as shareholders of democracy? This question has served as a catalyst for many of my fellow faculty at High Point University who have implemented a learning initiative for more than 300 of our students in an effort to better prepare, or perhaps awaken, our nation's future leaders. The HPU Democracy USA Project is an approach to civic engagement that has put students in community clinics, shelters and other community organizations to talk to people who are homeless, looking for work or struggling to afford health care. It will put them at the helm of this year's National Democratic and Republican Conventions as well, where they will talk to political leaders who influence policy about the exact same issues. And on campus, they will discuss their findings, hold voter registration drives, and provide opportunities for their peers to become active.
The HPU Democracy USA Project is one that will ensure HPU students are doing their part to better America and solve the hurdles ahead. But it is by no means limited to the students of HPU. As American citizens, we should all recognize an obligation to be involved in our community and take opportunities to enhance our lives and the lives of others. Identify problems and develop solutions. Ask a person who is struggling what could make a difference in their lives. And reflect on great holidays such as this one as a marker in our history – one that will continue to lead us to success and provide opportunities for all people to flourish.
-Dr. Joe Blosser, Director of Service Learning at High Point University
Fourth of July Holiday is a Reminder to Participate in Democracy
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