The 4th of July is a special day to us Americans. It symbolises a celebration of our freedom, our independence from Britain and our birth as a separate country. I love the 4th of July.
I have no bad memories of the holiday. I have celebrated it around the world, China, Britain, USA. I have celebrated it multiple different ways. As a child it was always a family + friend holiday, we would spend it BBQ’ing in the backyard or tailgating in a grocery store parking lot. As night fell we would watch the fireworks light up the nights sky and I would fall asleep as the adults talked.
As a teenager, I would go to my friends and light small fireworks, at least until I had an accident. When parents say, ‘don’t blow yourself up’ they mean it! Because I actually did it. I was down the street at a neighbours house, throwing “buffalo bombs” into an empty garbage can full of water. I was so focused on aiming into the can that I didn’t pay attention to how much time I had before the firework went off. So, it exploded in my hand. And the first thought that popped into my head was ‘Oh My God! My mom was right! How did she know?’ My hand was numb for the rest of the night, and I haven’t tried to play with fireworks again. I happily pay for them and let other people do the dangerous part.
As an adult I’ve had to work on the holiday. But that never bothered me because my colleagues and I were always in fantastic moods and acted like comrades because it was our nations holiday! No matter where I worked, I knew my employer would offer us good food and make sure our shift was fun.
4th of July in China was about educating people about the holiday and enjoying our mutual admiration and love for America. The Chinese embraced it, and even helped us find fireworks for the occasion.
But the same can’t be said for Britain. The more 4th of July’s I spend in England, the more depressing it is. I never fail to hear people say ‘you are all just a bunch of ungrateful colonials’. And they gripe about how they didn’t try very hard during the American Revolution to keep us as a colony of Britain. The last thing they want to do is celebrate our independence. The 4th of July is actually quite a sore subject with Brits.
Their history lessons about how America became independent and ours is very different. They didn’t see us as oppressed citizens. The Brits saw themselves as fair, benevolent leaders, charging us tax to raise money for the home nation. They didn’t consider how harmful it was to us. And when we rebelled, it was shocking! How could we not want to be British! The UK still view’s itself in the light of glory. They revel in their history as world conquerors and ignore the parts where they burdened other nations. America wasn’t fight back against injustice, it was being ungrateful to their generosity of giving us lands. So, our winning our independence was almost a betrayal that they have never forgiven us for.
I’ve never been treated as less than another person until I came to England. I feel that I am regularly judged and looked down upon for being an American. I think it is residual resentment for us earning our freedom, and the huge success we have had as our own country. But, people frequently are negative towards me just because I am from the USA.
Well to them I say, I’m American and damn proud of it! I do not try and pronounce things the British way, I don’t strive to use the British slang. I don’t put on a faux British accent to try and assimilate. I respect the British but I’m still a loud, opinionated American, and I will scream that from the roof tops. I know my country isn’t perfect, but I won’t deny it as my own.
Spending Independence Day in the country that my ancestors fought to gain independence from is awkward. In past years, I haven’t gone all out to celebrate. But not this year. I wore red white and blue makeup, painted my nails, had hot dogs and watched Captain America. No one will put me down today for being an ungrateful colonial. If they dare, I’ll just go American on their ass. Today is my 4th of July and Britain’s don’t get to take that away from me because they are petty.