This independence day I spent more time than was good for my mood thinking about what's been done since the Revolution to the Constitution so much blood was spilled to put ourselves in a position to ink. The important thing, I realized, isn't whether we've gotten lost in the last few centuries but whether we have a map back to civilization. And in a sense, we do: we still recall and at least pretend to endorse the motives behind that letter – signed in 1776, years before the Constitution was adopted – that staked the lives of everyone signing it on the principles it proclaimed.
My daughter asked today whether the Brits were still mad about the Revolutionary War. She listed to my (very brief) answer and asked: What's an ally? And that was a good one. An ally is your friend. An ally shows up with food when you are hungry, and when your ally is under threat of oblivion from a megalomaniacal dictator with the most advanced military technology on the planet, you stage the landing of Normandy. She nodded like she got it.