Why A “Happy 4th Of July” Posting From The Middle East Made Me Cry

Why A “Happy 4th Of July” Posting From The Middle East Made Me Cry

Why A “Happy 4th Of July” Posting From The Middle East Made Me Cry

There are many things that I have seen bantered around the internet in general, and my Facebook feed specifically, today celebrating our independence from Britain and the establishment of this great nation. Anything from vintage pin-up’s superimposed over waving flags and pictures of the founding fathers signing the Declaration of Independence. My favorite post however was from a friend, who I hope will appreciate this post when she reads it. She is a first generation American of two Middle Eastern Christian parents who fled their country for the promise of ours who spends a month each summer in the nation of her parents birth to visit family. One of the other wonderful side effects of this travel is that it reminds her how to appreciate our country when she returns to it. As an Army brat and a well traveled woman I share her view of the state of women around the world. Nowhere else offers women the level of possibility that this nation does, even if they are born into poverty. Look at women like Condaleezza Rice and Oprah Winfrey. Like them or not, both are brilliant examples of the promise that this nation holds for those who are born into poverty to be able to rise above the economic state of their parents with hard work and determination.

Condaleeza Rice and her mother

But I digress, dear reader. What struck me was this wonderful young woman’s photo of a unique 4th of July meal in a far away country not always friendly to Americans. It was a photo that was as American as it was foreign. On this balcony in a land ruled by a king was a table set with a lunch of hummus, falafel, a bottle of American beer and a small American flag-you know the kind you see little kids waving at parades on the 4th. She explained her choices as “the perfect blend of Arab and American”, and added a “laugh line” that also made me think-as I hope it did everyone who saw her post on her wall and the subsequent ones it was shared on. She explained that she laid Old Glory on the table in order to survive to arrive home soon. While it may have been a half-hearted attempt at humor it made me think how lucky we are to live in a land where we can literally fly any flag we choose-without fear of reprisal from government (until recently that is).

A Swedish flag is flown along with Old Glory

Another one of her posts that made me think-and cry-was her description of the patriotism she has seen displayed in other countries that she has traveled to this summer. They all accept their history, the good, the bad and the ugly and they are still unabashedly patriotic. The flags of these nations wave from many homes and are prominently placed around their cities. We in America display this level of patriotism in fits and starts these days-remember after 9/11?  I do. I remember the amazing wave of patriotism that swept across this country unlike any wave of patriotism I had witnessed in my life-and as an Army brat, raised on posts around the world I have seen some patriotism displayed! How can we get that feeling, that pride in America, back? The World Cup brought some of it out but as soon as we were eliminated by the kingdom of waffles and frites (read Belgium) it seems to have receded once again.

U.S. fans cheer on America at the World Cup

It is my wish that we share that spark of true love of country, the appreciation and understanding of the special-ness of this nation with all of our children. That is where it starts. Perhaps there is a reason that those children who grow up celebrating the 4th of July tend to become Republican voters. Why is that? Think about it! When I was growing up on posts across this nation there were always HUGE 4th celebrations. In fact, most of the subsequent 4th’s have been downright anti-climactic for me as a result. We spent the day at BBQ’s and then attended massive celebrations including full brass bands playing John Phillip Sousa’s marches in concert with massive professional fireworks displays. I remember many a 4th of July going to bed smelling like a combination of smoked meat and cordite. Perhaps that is one of the many reasons that my friends post made me cry. I want every child to know the same pride and love of country that I still hold in my heart and will until my dying day. Damn right this country isn’t perfect, but as a woman who has traveled can tell you I thank God everyday that I was born here. I can only hope that future generations will too, and her post gives me hope. For that, I thank her.

These were the best nights of my childhood

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Ava Gardner