Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia released this message on Saturday, July 4, an update on the city’s status amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.
I’ve always said one of the best days of my life was when I became an American. I’m a citizen by choice, not birth—and it’s a privilege my family had to fight and struggle for. I’ve always loved our country and feel a deep sense of gratitude for all it has provided my family. Patriotism is also about reflection and recognizing we are not a perfect union—but a country and people that struggle and often fail to live up to our founding principles.
Americans have always stood for freedom. We believe in freedom because we trust people. We believe people are basically good and we will take care of each other, our community and ourselves—we will do the right thing.
Of course we know that doesn’t always happen. One of the hardest and most important jobs in government is to balance freedom with responsibility, individual rights and the general welfare.
I have heard people’s concerns about restrictions on our freedoms, whether it’s the closing of bars and indoor dining or the requirement to wear face coverings in public. I understand these concerns. We have a tradition of freedom in this country and people sincerely want to protect that.
But I also want to remind you Americans have often been asked, in times of national crisis, to make sacrifices and we’ve always stepped up time and time again to serve the greater good.
In war time, people have rationed metal and paper and gone without meat for months. During natural disasters, strangers helping strangers, neighbors helping neighbors, sometimes at incredible risk to their own safety. We do this because as Americans, we care.
Amid the pain and anger we are going through at this moment we must be guided by knowing if we lead with compassion and a strong sense of justice, we are going to build a better country.
This year, we are all being asked to give up a lot—some of us, more than others and I know this is hard, but given the kinds of sacrifices Americans are accustomed to making, I know we can keep counting on each other to do what’s right.
The simple act of wearing a face covering inside buildings or near other people can greatly reduce the spread of coronavirus. The science is clear on this. Even better is staying at home, keeping a physical distance and washing your hands frequently. We’ve all seen the result when communities fail to practice these steps—increased cases, more pressure on hospitals, and the need to shut down parts of the economy again.
Our freedom of speech, freedom of religion, rights to equal protection and due process, and all our cherished fundamental rights aren’t going anywhere. We’re being asked to do what we do when we sneeze or cough—cover our nose and mouth. Let’s make this sacrifice for those in our community who are so at risk from this virus.
A July 4 without big barbeques or beach trips was not what most of us were looking forward to. Tomorrow, the beaches reopen. Let’s enjoy them responsibly. The better we keep to these practices, the sooner we can return to something like normal. Thank you for your help in keeping us all safe.