America. F-yeah!

Happy Birthday America.  It’s been a fantastic long weekend on this end of the computer screen involving lots of family, sun, food, relaxing, movies, food, drink, food, and patriotism.  Two hundred and thirty-five years ago an amazing group of individuals came together and quite honestly pulled off a historically preposterous feat.  It was on this day that the Declaration of Independence was signed (actually the date it was signed is somewhat in question) and the loosely unified thirteen colonies declared their sovereignty from the largest empire in the world.  Out manned, out gunned, and out classed in every way the revolutionary colonies went toe to toe with the mighty Redcoats and brought us the freedom we embrace today.  It was basically the best thing to happen to our country until USA 4 – USSR 3 in Lake Placid 1980 arrived (this point is somewhat debatable).  What cannot be disputed however is this day and the subsequent fight for independence that ensued bred our current sense of justice, freedom, love of the underdog, and dependence on coffee in the morning rather than tea.    

In the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to travel from sea to shining sea, roll through our amber waves of grain, ruin my Miles Per Gallon climbing our mountain tops, and take in our for spacious skies, and I could not be more proud to call this land our own.  There are whole channels and media outlets designed to magnify our differences and pick at the seams of our tightly woven cloth of a society.  There are other countries and cultures who see all that we do as wrong and our way of life as everything they stand against.  I get that.  I don’t agree with it, but I get it.  All of these groups are entitled to their opinion, that’s part of what those men in Philadelphia were trying to teach us in 1776 and what they fought to protect. 

As the crowd rose to their feet in applause this afternoon as the Veterans of Foreign Wars marched down Main St. with their chests puffed out and flags held high, one could not be anything but moved.  These men have lived the sacrifice that our forefathers stood for and most of us just assume someone else will take up for our cause. 

Take a look around you.  Whether it’s the material items such as the Apple computer on your lap or the car in your garage, the family asleep on your couch or crowded around the table, or the intangibles like a church you chose to attend Sunday morning or a blog where you express your own thoughts freely, these are all parts of being American. 

We’re an amazing people that protected and won our own freedom and have traveled the world to provide and protect that same freedom for others who are less fortunate.  We give almost double the foreign aid as the second highest country (per one set of statistics from 2007), and generally speaking act in the best interest of the world at large (unlike previous super powers our colonization efforts have been pretty hands off).  Americans invented the Big Mac and put a man on the moon. 

So while The Wife and I sat in a parking lot looking up to the colorful explosions in the sky celebrating all that we’ve done in our two hundred and thirty-five years, I could not help but look around and share a sense of unity and pride with my fellow citizens who looked on at those same fireworks finding their own definition to what being an American means.  Whether we be black, brown, yellow, or red; of Irish, Italian, Polish or English descent; for fifteen minutes under the rockets red glare and as the bombs were bursting in air before us, we were all one people in celebration of what we’ve done and that which has yet to come.  That is until the fireworks ended and the parking lot turned into a colossal traffic jam.  At that point everyone reverted back to the collection of assholes around us who don’t know how to drive nor how to cross the street.  Idiots.  But at least they were my idiots and I could not be more proud.