In the early and mid-1600s, settlers braved oceans in tiny vessels for the privilege of unimaginable hardship on our Eastern seaboard. For various reasons, it seemed worth it for the opportunity to start over. In 1776, we started over as a brand new nation, and 13 years later ratified a Constitution – the fundamental conditions by which we would move forward. Railroads opened up the virgin continent, with settlers loading wagons and starting over. Then in 1861, the country was split in half, with the South an aspiring new “nation,” and in 1865 we re-started as an uneasy but again unified country, with Reconstruction ending in 1877.

Into a new century, the first World War began in 1914 and ended with the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, the western world facing a major re-start. In 1929, we collapsed into the Great Depression, followed by the World War II in 1941and the dawn of the Atomic Age in 1945, a 15-year span which led to the Cold War, the United Nations, the beginning of the end of colonialism and a restructured society. And let us not forget television. All of which created stunning change, and another re-start.

Then came the Korean and Vietnamese Wars, the Civil Rights Act in 1964, man in space and on the moon, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Eastern Bloc economies in 1989, the slow then monstrous advent of the computer and the internet, and on-and-on. We could almost hear the time from start-to-restart shrinking. Then came the Great Recession of 2008-2010 (is it over?), and few of us got away without recalibrating.

Those are but a few of the seminal moments and events in our history which have required, at some level, starting over. Yes, we have been a nation of exploration, of independent-minded souls, of opportunity and of freedom. But as much as anything, we have been a bunch of hard-headed folks who get up and get back on the horse – we start over, again and often again. This is a very good thing, as the “universe” seems to be forever offering up yet another opportunity to redo it one more time.

I wish you a Happy 236th Birthday on Wednesday. And I suggest that we each pause for a moment to “cross out” the sorry idea that we “have to” start over, and instead substitute the notion that we “get to” start over. Otherwise, we would be left behind!

And think good thoughts for those in Waldo Canyon and northwest of Colorado Springs, hundreds of families who will spend their July 4th figuring out how to start over. They will. It is what we do.

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