It’s Been 4 Years Since John Cena’s Epic Independence Day Speech
Four years ago this week, the Ad Council debuted one of their most powerful ads ever. It features 16-time World Champion, WWE superstar, and Hollywood leading man, John Cena, talking about diversity, and what makes America great.
The video is called "We Are America", and when it debuted in 2016, it caught a lot of people off guard. Up to this point, Cena had done like a lot of Americans when it came to topics like inclusion, he kept his head down and didn't say a word. But this video changed all of that for Cena, and based on what has taken place over the four years since, it seems to have changed for a lot of other people too.
Cena opens the ad with the following:
"Patriotism. There’s a word thrown around a lot. It inspires passionate debate. It’s worn like a badge of honor, and with good reason. Cause it means love and devotion for one’s country. Love? For a word to designed to unite, it can also be pretty divisive. See, there’s more to patriotism than flag-sequined onsies and rodeos and quadruple cheeseburgers. Patriotism is love for a country. Not just pride in it. But what really makes up this country of ours? What is it we love?"
Just a little later in the ad, Cena moves on to statistics, breaking down what our idea is of the "average" American:
"Picture the average U.S. citizen. Think about it. How old are they? What’s their hair like? How much can they bench? You got one? Okay. So chances are, the person you’re picturing right now looks a little different than the real average American. There are 319 million U.S. citizens. 51% are female. So first off, the average American is a woman. Cool, huh? Is that what you pictured? 54 million are Latino. 40 million senior citizens. 27 million are disabled. 18 million are Asian. That’s more people in the U.S. than play football and baseball combined. 9 million are lesbian, gay, bi, transgender – more than the entire amount of people that live in the state of Virginia. Around 10 million are redhead, 5.1 million play Ultimate frisbee and 3.5 million are Muslim… triple the number of people currently serving in the United States military. Almost half the country belongs to minority groups. People who are lesbian, African-American and bi and transgender and Native American and proud of it."
Cena finishes up the ad in a more elevated tone, asking Americans to celebrate all of America, not just the concept they have in their minds:
"This year, patriotism shouldn’t just be about pride of country. It should be about love. Love beyond age, disability, sexuality, race, religion and any other labels. Because the second any of us judge people based on those labels? We’re not really being patriotic, are we? So let’s try this one more time. Close your eyes. Picture the average Joe or Joan or Juan or Jean-Luc. The real people who make America, America. And this year, maybe you feel the urge to don those star-spangled shorts and set off fireworks the size of my biceps and show love for our country? Remember that to love America is to love all Americans."
Again, this was back in 2016. Four years before the protests we see today, calling for an end to racial injustice. This was in a period where gay Americans could legally get married, but could still be legally discriminated at their jobs for it (that just changed two weeks ago). The world was a much different place just four years ago. But John Cena saw something different in America, and based on where we are today, it doesn't seem like he was alone.