My dad died in August 2000. As the recessional music, we played “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen. A bit of an unusual choice eh? We chose it for a number of reasons, not the least of which to represent my father’s eternal love of his birth country. Although we left the U.S.A. over 40 years ago when I was a very young girl, I share my dad’s enthusiasm for our country. (Well, I truly should rephrase that to say for our countries because home for us meant both the US and Canada).
If you read my Canada Day post, you will know that I absolutely adore Canada. This is where I was raised and it has been good to me, but the US is where I came from both literally and figuratively. I like to think of it as the American influence being a large part of what formed my foundation, while Canada was more involved in my ongoing progress and growth. Both are essential in the makeup of my heart, soul, and personality.
I feel very lucky to have been able to return to and live in the US for four years while I attended university in Arkansas (Go Hogs! Wooooo pig sooie!). To be able to experience America again in person when I was old enough to remember and appreciate it was just wonderful. I truly could not have picked a better state for that experience either because the people there are so genuine, so loving, kind, and generous. I have never been treated better in my life. As Tanya Tucker sort of sings (she got one little detail wrong), “When I die, I may not go to heaven. I don’t know if they let cowboys in. If they don’t, just let me go to ARKANSAS, because ARKANSAS is as close as I’ve been.” Not only was it an incredible experience living in Arkansas with all those friendly people, but being in university there gave me the opportunity to study American history, geography, politics, and literature. For once, I felt like instead of merely loving and being loyal to America because it was where I was born, I could now feel an even deeper sense of pride in knowing where the country came from, how it developed, the long history of freedom, independence, and acceptance, and the many many accomplishments of Americans in the world arena. My love was no longer solely based on sentimentality but rather encompassed a amazing awe and appreciation for the greatness that is the United States of America.
In all honesty, I have received many mixed reactions in Canada when it is learned that I am an American. I have been teased mercilessly, pelted with a barrage of cruel insults against Americans, and even took an ice ball (no not a snowball, an ice ball…this was Montreal and it was an ice storm) in the eye because I dared to stand up for my home. I do understand the loyalty that people feel to their own countries. I do understand that neither one of the countries I call home are perfect or free of making serious errors. In my heart, though, I truly believe that there is far more good in both of my home countries than there is bad; in fact, I believe that both countries have been responsible for some of the most amazing contributions to the world and I choose to be proud of those accomplishments and to hope, pray, and work for an even better tomorrow. Just as the Canada! song and O Canada can bring a tear to my eye, I will never forget the gut-wrenching heart-tearing feeling I had as I sang along to the Star Spangled Banner at Bicentennial celebrations in 1976 or during reports on 9/11. Yes, the latter was partly based in fear and sorrow, but even moreso than that, it was based in a deep and abiding love and desire to protect the country of my birth, the United States of America. Happy birthday America and many, many more!
4th of July links:
For some fun newspaper crowns and hats great to wear for 4th of July parades and more!
4th of July themed printable invitations
Family Fun as always has some cute ideas for the holiday including this flag themed windchime,
these firecracker favours,
and these patriotic pompoms
and much much more!
Make the traditional American flag cake with berries to make the blue and red colours on the cake
Or perhaps you would prefer these red, white, and blueberry skewers from Make and Takes.
Or these adorable flag cupcakes from Martha
A red, white, and blue dessert http://backporchmusings.blogspot.com/2009/06/red-white-blue-dessert.html
Or check out my recipes at Lemuria’s Red Apple Tearoom:
Spaetzle (German egg noodles) http://islandtearoom.wordpress.com/2009/07/10/fourth-of-july-recipes-spaetzle/
Good Old Southern Chicken and Dumplings http://islandtearoom.wordpress.com/2009/07/11/fourth-of-july-recipes-chicken-and-dumplings/
Southern Fried Chicken http://islandtearoom.wordpress.com/2009/07/10/fourth-of-july-recipes-southern-fried-chicken/
Southern Chicken Fried Steak with Milk Gravy http://islandtearoom.wordpress.com/2009/07/11/fourth-of-july-recipes-southern-chicken-fried-steak-with-milk-gravy/
Cincinnati Skyline Chili http://islandtearoom.wordpress.com/2009/07/11/fourth-of-july-recipes-cincinnati-skyline-chili-getti/
I just love these 4th of July origami hat placecard holders!
And this adorable star garland http://www.skiptomylou.org/2009/06/30/star-garland/
This oh so cute and clever idea for “keeping things together” on the 4th http://www.skiptomylou.org/2009/07/01/holding-the-fourth-of-july-together/
And yet more from Skip to my Lou, Fourth of July Snack Cups http://www.skiptomylou.org/2009/07/01/diy-fourth-of-july-snack-cups/
For ideas for a red, white, and blue theme of the week with your kids, check this out! http://katherinemariephotography.com/blog/archives/2442
Whip Up has some great links to Fourth of July crafts http://whipup.net/2009/07/03/10-of-the-best-fourth-of-july-crafts/
For a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, here are the Dixie Chicks:
And although I didn’t find an online playlist for the 4th of July (as I did for Canada Day), I did find a list suggested in the July issue of Woman’s Day magazine as being highly appropriate for a 4th of July BBQ. Here are their suggestions: America by Neil Diamond, Back in the USA by Chuck Berry, All American Girls by Sister Sledge, Living in America by James Brown, Our Country by John Mellencamp (am I dating myself by knowing he used to be called John Cougar and then John Cougar Mellencamp?), God Bless the USA by Lee Greenwood, Only in America by Brooks and Dunn, Arlington by Trace Adkins, In America by Charlie Daniels, This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie (just make sure to pick the right version because there IS a Canadian version of this song), America the Beautiful by Ray Charles, Letters From Home by John Michael Montgomery, and American Soldier by Toby Keith. Anyone have some to add to this? I feel like there are more that we are missing here! Personally, if I were writing my own Fourth of July playlist, it would have to include Not Ready to Make Nice by the Dixie Chicks. As far as I am concerned, it is THE MOST patriotic song out there but ya know, that’s just me.