July 4th. It’s a holiday people don’t understand here in Europe. I’m not gonna lie, sometimes I’m not sure what to be proud of. Just as we in the States think that the English sit around eating scones with tea, the French escargot, and the Germans drinking beer, likewise are we but barbecuing half-baked vicious gun-owners to them. Ever since stepping across the pond, every new person that found out I was American would badger me on the subject, and of course my personal thoughts on Mr. Trump. It brought me down to a point where sometimes I wish I didn’t have to tell people I was American. Being a New Yorker made that all the more difficult. I even discussed with other Americans asking, “Do you get this too? I’m not gonna lie, I’m a bit tired of it. But actually though, what do we have to be proud of?” A wise friend simply answered, “Freedom.”
These days it’s almost seen as an oddity and even offensive to be patriotic! Patriotism is a lost art I feel, in very many ways! I do feel that the way history is taught in schools and the way people feel about the nation doesn’t help. Instances of people being told they can’t bring the Star Spangled Banner to school in the name of “inclusivity” is commonplace. Nothing but utter twaddle. America is going through tough times right now, the whole world really. But the amazing thing is that since 1776, challenged by horrendous evils both of our own doing, and of imminent others, despite being 240 years young today, she has successfully withstood the tests of time itself.
I think the big problem is that American things have become SO universal that people forget (including myself) that they’re American! Let’s take a moment to think of all the crazy amazing things American ingenuity and resilience has produced.
If America never existed:
Where would our childhood be without the American movie industry?
If you were a boy, you definitely wanted to be a Jedi at one point in your life (and still do), while girls dream of being Disney princesses and riding off with Prince Charming in the sunset! We all know (or are) that one person that can sing Disney songs without skipping a heart beat. Clint Eastwood made everyone want to become a cowboy. Who doesn’t want to ride horses and show the world who’s boss? That’s just the movies! What about music? American music has touched and is touching generations of people, from Elvis to Michael Jackson to John Mayer! Even now, in each country I visit and every store I walk into, has American music playing on their radio stations. If you’re lucky, every 5th one will be of the vernacular. The musical landscape of the world is forever changed because of amazing American harmonies and tunes starting from Southern slaves! Composers and musicians like George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, Scott Joplin, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Pat Metheny, B.B. King, the list goes ON and ON. The more I thought about it, I didn’t even mention people like Jimi Hendrix, Slash, Eddie Van Halen, and Steve Vai. I’ll stop here, if not we’ll be here all year. A lot of people like to sound cool by saying “music is life,” well if that’s true, then Americans have changed the world countless times over.
What if we took away DC comics and Marvel? Man my childhood would have been empty, as would have playtime. *Running in an open field screaming your head off* Friends look at you and ask, “What are you doing? Who do you think you are…?” You pause and say “Um… myself.” I’m pretty sure that alternative universe is much blander than the one we live in today. Did I mention Nike, Pixar, or the iPhone?I forgot to even mention video games! By now you’re probably saying “Stop! It’s too painful.” I agree. Forward we go.
Real Freedom is acceptance.
Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, all men are created equal. These are the reasons people flock to the states. Even with all this beauty, people right now are upset and angry. Enraged probably fits the bill better. It’s hard to love your neighbor if all you can think about is how you’ve been wronged. We all know that no one is perfect. Imperfect people make up nations, and thus America is far from perfect. But despite all its idiosyncrasies, I still love my country. Having been abroad for just short of a year has only made me think about what it means to be an American and the amazing things this nation has done for people inside and outside its walls. Whether it’s charity work, or simply writing new tunes to be sung for generations. Real freedom is letting go of the chains of anger and bitterness. And against all odds, moving forward.
I used to not be a huge fan of my nation’s anthem preferring other songs, but after rereading the powerful words, I can see why it gives us pride.
O! say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
What has your country contributed to the world? What makes you proud?
Happy July 4th everyone!