The 4th of July is not just a symbol to some of us.

I grew up under the wings of the Air Force so I never thought I needed to display the American Flag. My family’s loyalty to our country was understood. Not only my USAF master sargeant father served our Country, but my entire family. That was our duty to which we were bound. Nothing was more important than service to protect and defend Country.

This is the first year of my many long years when I’ve felt the need the need to display the American flag, not out of some performative patriotism but because I believe in the principles and ideals embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The United States is not land and blood or private property rights or protection of wealth from taxation or States’ Rights, the US is about an ideal that all people are created equal under the Creator and deserve equal rights and justice.

Even though our Nation failed to live up to that aspiration, as Lincoln, Madison & Jefferson and MLK said, we must continue try to see each other a welcome and equal families to our Nation. We may each have our own prejudices, but we must overcome the legacies of prejudice and hatreds of the past to create a more perfect union that generations of our forefathers fought and sacrificed their blood and lives to achieve.

Today, on this Independence Day - the day the Declaration of Independence was signed - we must dedicate ourselves to an inclusive, multi-cultural Union that our forebears, including my own WW2 parents, could barely foresee, let alone understand or envision. But one thing they taught, even us as their families of members of loyal US Armed Forces was clear to my brothers and me: our dedication and loyalty to the Constitution and the Nation’s ideals of freedom for all was paramount: equal justice under the law; equality of opportunity; equality of legal and civil rights; the freedom to peacefully disagree and lobby government on the People’s behalf; and the right to tell the American story, under freedom of expression, as it actually happened and continues to exist.

Maybe I wouldn’t be such as warrior against the constraints imposed by the far right that overtook the GOP if I didn’t understand my own family’s history. Multiple family members arrived during early colonial days, seeking a better life. They came initially from England, Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, and later from Germany, but they all brought with them a dream of an equal society where they could work towards and achieve their dreams based on their own ambition and abilities.

As Americans, we have an obligation to extend those same dreams, ambitions and rights to everyone, regardless of race, creed, color, religion, ethnicity or gender, to every American just as our forebears sought for themselves. Why? Because our Founders believed in them, even if they were not willing to put those beliefs into action in their own lives.

My military family unwittingly taught me these beliefs because of their own belief in our Nation and our Constitution. So, this year on the Anniversary of that weighty Declaration of Independence, the aspiration ideals of our Nation - that Shining City on the Hill - that both John Winthrop and Reagan spoke so lovingly of - must be accomplished today. As such I regret, as a result of Trump, not having not having a flag to fly for my father and my uncles and ancestors who gave their lives for this Union.