Our Independence Day is not a military holiday. Yes, we fought in a war for our freedom, but in the initial stages of that war, on July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress sat down and wrote out a list of grievances to King George III with the Declaration of Independence. This holiday is about the rights of citizens under the American democratic government, not about weapons. Leave the tanks and warplanes out of it, for what, then, separates us from the Vladimir Putins and Kim Jong Uns of the world? What does it say when our day of celebrating freedom looks the same as oppressive oligarchies and autocracies?

Andrew George, Roseville

PATRIOTISM

I’m not proud, but I’m hopeful

The U.S. has certainly done some exceptional things. Our forefathers laid the groundwork for a marvelous democracy. The three branches of government were set up to balance each other. The Bill of Rights gave individuals needed protection. The table was set for a country that would be admired around the world.

But ... a worldwide Gallup survey in 2014 asked which country was the biggest threat to peace in the world. The U.S. was the winner. Not some dictatorship or terrorist-controlled nation. The United States. Why? Because it’s all about the Benjamins, as one lawmaker famously said. We sell weaponry all around the world.

Why is there an immigration problem? Because we have destabilized many governments in Central and South America. We have done this to line our own pockets.

I would think that our species has evolved enough to see the foolishness of war and work together on mutual problems such as the climate crisis.

So am I proud of this country? Not right now. But we must have hope and move forward. What else do we have?

Mike McDonald, St. Paul

BORDER CRISIS

We can step up and fix immigration

I’ve been amazed and shocked by President Donald Trump and his administration’s positions on so many issues, I cannot count. But watching the news with photos of congressional visits to refugee sites in Texas I am appalled, embarrassed, ashamed, discouraged, saddened and whatever other words are available to see the photos of what our country is doing to people who are only trying to escape tragedy and difficulty in their home countries. We, America, are acting no better than other despotic countries.

My husband and his family escaped from Latvia in 1944 when the Soviet Union invaded their country. His family was fortunate to be taken in by the U.S. troops at a displaced persons camp in Austria and finally was transported to the United States. John, my husband, to pay back the gift of becoming an American, sponsored a Cuban family when Fidel Castro kicked out 350,000 people who are now thriving in the United States.

We did it before; we can do it again.

Linda Freivalds, Wayzata

MINNEHAHA PARKWAY

Not everyone is 23 and on a bike

I have read the articles about the plans to ban cars on Minnehaha Parkway from Lyndale to Portland avenues. I have yet to find mention of a meaningful segment of our population: the disabled and elderly. I get the impression that the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board members have no plans to ever become disabled or elderly or recognize that segment of our taxpaying population.

As a former 30-plus-year homeowner on the Parkway in the Tangletown neighborhood, I was active in the elimination of the third road in that area that created a wonderful, underutilized, flat, secluded park area, and the resulting auto traffic pattern with one-way parkways on both sides of the creek. It was a challenge at times for residents, but it recognized that not everyone was 23 and on a bike. It was there for all to use. The narrow driving lanes, hills and curves tend to keep traffic under control and, when I have been on it this past year, quite devoid of cars, runners and bikes.

In my opinion, this Parkway idea seems to be a solution searching for a problem.

Su Blumentals, Bloomington

U.S. WOMEN’S SOCCER

It deserves more than it’s getting

Stop caring about how the U.S. women are celebrating in the World Cup. Stop caring about them being too cocky, too arrogant, celebrating too much (by the way, hop onto YouTube and watch how the men celebrate).

But here are some things to care about. The U.S. women reported bringing in more revenue than the men’s national team. According to Nike, the U.S. women’s team has the top-selling soccer jersey. Yet, the three-time World Cup champion U.S. women are earning far less than their male counterparts. The men’s team — where the word “disappointing” doesn’t even come close to describing its history — earns substantially more than the women’s. This is a men’s team that failed to make the 2018 World Cup after a loss to Trinidad and Tobago. And a team that can barely compete with the top teams from around the world.

But the issue doesn’t stop there. Across the board, women’s sports in the U.S. face difficulties that men’s sport do not. Just a few weeks ago, the Indiana Fever (WNBA) faced the difficulties of traveling like we all do with delays, cancellations and more. And this isn’t the first time this has happened to WNBA teams. Meanwhile, on the men’s side, it would be unheard of for teams to travel in anything other than private charters.

Now, I get it — statistically, men’s athletics are massive revenue generators. But why can’t men’s leagues (NBA, MLS, NHL, NFL, MLB) step up and begin investing in women’s sports, start building awareness? It’s time male athletes step up and use their influence to highlight the talent that exists.

Jack Parker, Minneapolis

POLLUTION

Pittsburgh recovered. Minnesota won’t need to if we choose right.

I, too, am from Pittsburgh, like the July 3 letter writer who wrote in support of mining in northern Minnesota (“It’s not an either/or proposition”). I grew up in a city that was still reeling from the effects of the steel industry. It took many, many years and concerted effort (as well as closing of most of the steel mills) to clean up rivers and air polluted by a century of industry.

The writer speaks about having copper-nickel mining jobs and a clean environment in proximity to a pristine wilderness area. I wonder if he understands the difference between iron mining and the kind of mining proposed by PolyMet and Twin Metals? There is no documented case in which this type of mining has been done without polluting the water around it.

I have lived in Minnesota since the 1980s, drawn here by the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, and my husband and I recently bought a cabin on the edge of that wilderness area. It’s a place unlike any other in the United States — one of few areas where you can still drink from pristine waters. Unlike iron mining, copper-nickel mining will endanger the quality of our water and the wildlife it supports.

As fellow Pittsburghers, we should both be proud that our city has recovered from the impacts of unregulated industrial pollution. I’m not sure the same will be true of northern Minnesota if we open the area to heavy-metals mining.

Sandy Wolfe Wood, Stillwater

GARDENS

Run to smell the roses!

Go to the Lake Harriet rose garden. Now.

The garden is still at near-peak, and is in the best condition I can remember, thanks to the Minneapolis Park Board and park gardener Andrew Gawboy and his crew. If you are a rose enthusiast or just love beautiful things, it is a treasure.

Dennis Pedersen, Richfield