Our Rights as Americans From Over 200 Years Ago to Present Day
With the Fourth of July happening this month, I can’t help but think about what it stands for and why we celebrate this holiday. This year we’ll be celebrating the 243rd anniversary of the United States gaining independence from Great Britain. On July 4, we celebrate our forefathers signing the Declaration of Independence and setting the path for creating the rights we have as Americans. Today, we celebrate our country’s independence with barbecues, parades, and fireworks. While these are all fun celebrations, I also think it’s important to remember what it is we’re celebrating. The break from Great Britain gave Americans their independence, and they were no longer forced to pay taxes to a country that exploited and silenced them. By taking steps to secure their own voice, they also ensured that the generations to come would have the freedoms and rights they fought so hard to obtain. Many countries don’t offer rights for their citizens, and the Fourth of July is a time when we should be proud of, appreciate, and recognize the rights we do have. I’ve written before about how my dad’s parents were Lebanese immigrants who came over in the late 1800s for a better life. They arrived in the U.S. with nothing, and because of what our country affords people if they’re willing to work for it, they had the chance to start a new life for themselves. My dad was the youngest of seven boys, and his brothers, my cousins, and
myself have all been given the chance to follow the American dream and find opportunities we wouldn’t have had if my grandparents hadn’t come here so many years ago. The rights and benefits we have here in our country, especially when it comes to the legal system, don’t exist anywhere else in the world. I know that our legal system isn’t perfect, but I truly believe it’s the best. Our legal system gives freedoms and rights to many people that other countries do not give. An essential set of rights every person has is Miranda rights. You may have heard the following speech in detective shows: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court
of law. You have the right to an attorney … ” Law enforcement must recite this speech when arresting suspected individuals of a crime. The Miranda warning was first enforced in the 1966 Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona. Ernesto Miranda was arrested almost three years prior, and he fully confessed to the crime while unaware of what his rights were. Although he went to a retrial of the crime in question, Miranda was found guilty and sentenced 20–30 years in prison. While on parole in January of 1976, he became involved in a bar fight and was stabbed to death. The two people who were arrested for the crime were given their Miranda warning before they were brought in for questioning. This year, during all your celebrations of the Fourth, take a moment to reflect on and appreciate the rights we have as United States citizens.
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