July 4th embarks the day the 13 colonies gained independence from Great Britain. Since then, it has become a federal holiday in which Americans commemorate independence by attending parades, putting up patriotic decorations, and watching fireworks. Even with an abundance of diversity, we lack acceptance, understanding, and openness to others. The United States is known as “the land of the free '' and “the land of opportunity” as people can better their lives and ultimately have freedom. Many times, I am asked “Where are you from?” or “Where are you actually from?” because I don’t reflect the “ideal American” as I am a Muslim who wears the hijab. As an American Muslim, God commands us in the Holy Qur'an to “obey God, and obey His Messenger and those who are in authority over you” (4:6). Islam teaches Muslims to abide by the laws of where they live and to respect authority. To me, the ideal American abides by the laws, helps others, is open-minded, and accepts those who come from an array of backgrounds and cultures.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to ponder upon relationships, and countless people have had to face hardships. Although many will spend this day with parades, fireworks, and enjoying treats, helping others is the most patriotic way we can commemorate freedom and independence. No matter who you are or what you look like, go help others so that they too can enjoy America: the land of freedom and independence.

Ujala Yousaf

Centreville, VA

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