This Fourth of July, I am reflecting on what the sons and daughters of liberty sought that was so important to their happiness they were willing to fight and die to win it.

I celebrate their belief that the righteousness of their cause, and extraordinary will and energy, could overcome a far superior power. They fought to be free from oppression, from being exploited by an unsympathetic, entrenched elite, far removed from their daily lives and struggles, an elite that cynically interpreted hard-won laws and precedents to increase their own wealth and power.

Not a day passes that I am not thankful for their triumph or aware of its relevance to today.

The sun has risen on very few July Fourth holidays in which the fight against oppression and exploitation was not being waged somewhere within U.S. borders, whether it was the cruel fight against expansionism, or against slavery, or by unions against economic oppression, or for suffrage, or for equal rights, or for equal opportunity. Those battles are our legacy from the sons and daughters of liberty, and they are America’s genius.

When we see and hear the bombs bursting in air and the strings of firecrackers this Fourth of July, we should imagine them to be the battles being waged today for equal rights and sovereignty, for economic and social justice, and for fair elections decided by merit and qualifications instead of corporate wealth and power – new battles, same fight.

We have been challenged by that first remarkable triumph to strive as they did, with extraordinary faith and energy, to win freedom from oppression and exploitation for every man, woman, and child. That means we must get control of our cynicism and fears. We must be unafraid to innovate, and even to make mistakes.

We must believe that by our sheer effort and will, we are capable of eliminating social injustices and inequalities, reducing the excessive income and resource distribution disparities, and honorably restoring justice in cases of past inequities such as the Overthrow.

If we are truly the heirs of the sons and daughters of liberty, we can achieve those goals, adding them to the history of triumphs against the foes of freedom and justice.