On July 4th, at around 5 pm, I loaded the boys into the car, against all best judgement, headed towards the community park where half the town had been and the rest of the town was heading towards. We were determined to be there for the long haul. The final prize? The July 4th fireworks.
And it was definitely worth the wait.
If you know me, you know I am not blindly in love with this country. Oh hell no. Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin come with the US of A. ’nuff said. But on some days, at the risk of being pegged as a traitor to my Motherland (and this bittersweet part may be hard to understand unless you are an immigrant yourself), lampooned for wanting to be somebody I am not, i.e. “The American” (and this dilemma may be difficult to appreciate unless you are a foreigner struggling with watching yourself becoming American, sometimes against your own protest and possibly against your own best judgement), maligned for turning my back against my own people (a la Miss Saigon who harbors the dream of “Coming to America”), or ridiculed for having drunk the Kool-Aid and embraced the American Dream (and not the kind in which I become filthy rich but the kind in which I bellow out “We Are the World” like the baddest idealistic that I am), I love this country with all my heart.
This is something hard for me to admit and even harder to explain to folks back home. I am after all here in the US by myself. Admitting I am “Proud to be American” sometimes feels like a betrayal. I feel guilty. Embarrassed even. Am I becoming “uppity”, thinking I am better than they, whoever they are? On the other hand, I am prepared to slap a bitch if anybody attacks me thus since such criticism belies the assumption that being American is somehow better, more desirable, than being whatever. So you are the one with issues, not me. Take that, Booyah!
“American” is after all a social construct. Many current political, social and economical debates (and really, they all come down to who gets what) are even possible exactly because what and who is American is always up for definition and re-definition. And THAT, IMHO, is what makes this country different. Great. Lovable. Even though on some days you really do not want to have anything to do with it.
I love the IDEA of this country. I love the IDEAL of it that many so-called “real” Americans fortunately still believe in and insist on.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
‘ With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
The ideal is worth the wait.
p.s. I am also in love with my Blackberry with which these photos were taken, except the last one which came from my husband’s newer and better Blackberry. Bastard.