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Independence Day, Los Angeles: What It Means in 2016

LOS ANGELES

THIS IS WHAT I KNOW-The Fourth of July, like many holidays, has lost some of its luster as a patriotic paean to independence. We think of barbecues and pool parties, fireworks and, if we’re lucky, an extra day off. It’s the centerpiece of summer, flanked by Memorial Day and Labor Day. 

We sometimes forget that the Fourth represents more than a burger on the grill and watermelon. The holiday celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Two-hundred and forty years ago, the Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies no longer considered themselves part of the British Empire. Two days later, they called themselves a new nation, the United States of America. 

The founding fathers present at the First and Second Continental Congress had guts. They didn’t like how Great Britain was treating the colonies and they were willing to do something. 

When I hear from Angelenos gathering forces to solve a problem in our city, I think about the founding fathers. Whether the issue is the influence developers wield on City Council, unfettered development, gentrification, homelessness, the lack of restrictions on sober living facilities, or even the plight of migrating birds if a three-day concert should be held in the Sepulveda Basin, citizens throughout the city are fully committed to making a difference to change the course. 

It’s easy to feel powerless against what we perceive as well-funded political machines and interests with deep pockets. Does each one of us really have a voice? What I see when I attend meetings in living rooms or meeting areas is that, gathered together, our voices can be loud enough to be heard.

So, in honor of Independence Day, use your voice at the ballot box by joining with neighbors and other concerned citizens to work on an issue you wish to change, and even by commenting on an article you’ve read. We are so fortunate to live in a country where we have the freedoms to vote, to assemble, and to speak out against injustices. Together, we can make a difference.

 

(Beth Cone Kramer is a Los Angeles writer and a columnist for CityWatch.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

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