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Forum editorial: Celebrate the spirit of America

Today's issue: Nation celebrates Independence Day. Our position: The genius of the nation lies in its ability to embrace change and hope. Economic fears and an unpopular and mismanaged war might seem more than enough to put a pall over today's ce...

Today's issue: Nation celebrates Independence Day.

Our position: The genius of the nation lies in its ability to embrace change and hope.

Economic fears and an unpopular and mismanaged war might seem more than enough to put a pall over today's celebration of American independence from the British colonial empire. But no matter the daunting challenges Americans face today - and have faced frequently in the nation's history - the spirit that makes the United States different from any other country always prevails.

The ethic that stirs Americans is as simple as the adage: Behind every cloud is a silver lining.

The concept of "American exceptionalism" might not be fashionable in some circles, but the evidence of history and achievement proves nothing less.

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The United States was founded on ideas, not tribal or ethnic and language identity. Ideas, as enshrined in our founding documents, animate the American spirit and the nation's system of governance.

The grand experiment that was started in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence continues to be a work in the making. Americans are never content, never satisfied with the status quo, even as they grouse and grumble about change. When change inevitably comes, they embrace it even as they honor history, heritage and tradition.

Today's celebrations wrap those seemingly competing forces into a uniquely American story: a free people with boundless energy living in a land where no possibility is barred. It's still the place where the world's disaffected want to be. It's still the place where anyone - whether a native-born American or a new American from somewhere else on the globe - can realize a dream.

No nation is perfect. Nations, after all, are human creations and therefore subject to the faults and failings of human beings. But when the founders of the United States created a new nation based on an entirely radical idea, the vision of a better, fairer, freedom-loving nation suddenly had real substance.

That was 232 years ago, a short time as the history of nations goes. America is still a newcomer on the world stage, but what a newcomer she has been. From the start, the United States was a beacon of freedom. The precepts that informed the Declaration and the Constitution are the ideals that still motivate this nation's greatness.

And great it is. Not always right, mind you, but most often trying mightily to do right. And when the nation strays from the mandates of its founding documents, the correcting mechanisms built into our system of representative government kick in. There is extraordinary genius in that system, and that's a big part of what Americans celebrate today.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper's Editorial Board

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