After months of hot debate and strenuous give-and-take, 38 delegates signed the Constitution of the United States on Sept. 17, 1787. When asked by a curious citizen just what kind of government had been structured by the Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin is said to have answered: “a Republic, if you can keep it.”

Franklin knew from the start that this unique model of governance, untried and untested anywhere else in the world at that point, was not a slam dunk. It rested on lofty ideals of freedom, democracy and trust. But then, as now, all forms of government are ultimately tested by human imperfection.

For many people, the events of the past few years may raise the question again of whether Americans can “keep” the promising republic bequeathed to us 235 years ago.

We have faced a worldwide pandemic, racial and economic division, sharply polarized politics, and numerous acts of devastating violence. It can sometimes be hard to recall the innocence and optimism of long ago.

But as health care providers, we have a special calling to do our best to heal and nurture minds and spirits as well as bodies.

For many patients who are injured, sick or in need of care, hospitals and health care workers embody the best in human nature … as they always have. Health care workers are the front-line angels, the reminder of the good that comes when people set aside differences to recognize their common humanity and care for one another.

This Fourth of July, it’s worth recalling that despite the difficult times we have faced recently, America remains a land of hope, opportunity and promise. Our aspirations are more powerful than our divisions.

As we celebrate our national birthday on Monday, let’s remember that it is still within our power – every one of us – to work together and realize the American dream that was forged in Philadelphia so many years ago.

The American Hospital Association extends best wishes to all our members and their families for a safe and happy July Fourth.

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