I’ve always had a difficult time with the fourth of July. Celebrating the brave words of the Declaration of Independence and the fight for freedom from the British contrasts so sharply with our own occupations and disregard for the freedoms of others.

From the decimation of native people’s to the jingoistic adventures of an earlier day to our so called war on terror, we forget the very words used to indict the British colonial rule:

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.
He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states,,,
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:
For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

I was thinking of this today while reading as Umm Fatima from GorillasGuides told us of her trip to her mother’s home and how very hard it is simply to get clean water in Iraq where the number of citizens with access to safe drinking water has decreased significantly since the US occupation:

Villages and rural areas have suffered a lot, the agriculture is collapsing or has collapsed in many places and  many people have moved to the cities to try to find work. Mostly there is no work to be found and what work they find is badly paid day labourer work. So they live in a squalid squatter camps and try to survive.

Then we have the report in the New York Times about Fallujah where, after spending $104 million, we are leaving the citizens not only without effective water treatment but with a boondoggle that “American officials acknowledge that the system may emit a foul odor if it ever does become functional.”

Now, after more than six years of work, $104 million spent, and without having connected a single house, American reconstruction officials have decided to leave the troubled system only partly finished, infuriating many city residents.

… the sewage treatment system has left some of the city’s busiest streets lined with open trenches for more than three years and engendered widespread resentment. The news that it will be left unfinished has provoked anger…

Four Iraqis have died during construction, including at least one person overcome by toxic fumes, according to workers at the site. Iraqi engineers also say they have complained to Americans about the poor quality of some of the work, but have been ignored.

“This project was supposed to be a mercy,” said Ali Abed al-Karim, the owner of a store where an open trench out front prevents most customers from entering. “But it has been nothing but a curse.”

As we celebrate here in the US, let’s remember that those inalienable rights are not only ours but are shared with all our brothers and sisters in humanity.

Video: When I lived in New Hampshire, we were lucky to live near Atlas Pyrotechnics. Each year, since they were so busy on the 4th that they could not put on a show for us locals, they would host a bigger and better show later in the summer and treat us all to the best they had. The video above is part one of last year’s display – so sit back, imagine yourself on a hill in the Live Free or Die state and enjoy.