Saturday, July 4, 2020

Happy Birthday, USA!

Happy Independence Day! Today is the Fourth of July, though this year obviously looks a little different from previous years. While serving in Kenya, I spent months leading up to this day working my butt off on the huge events U.S. Embassies typically hold to commemorate the occasion. (Pretty much every embassy of every country has a big "national day" celebration with external guests each year, and when we do events like that they are called "representational events" since their main function is to represent the United States and strengthen our relationships.) Needless to say, 2020 is looking a lot quieter. We're still social distancing, so we looked for ways to make it special this year that did not involve jostling with crowds on the National Mall to see fireworks.

I started the day reading my friend's blog post, To Be An American, which briefly examines some of the contradictions, promises, and hopes implicit in our country's Founding (and I've recommended his blog here before.) We listened to the official National Anthem ("The Star-Spangled Banner") and the unofficial Black National Anthem ("Lift Every Voice and Sing"), the latter of which I only learned this year while participating in Juneteenth for the first time. (We also watched this interesting video explaining why our anthem is so complicated and difficult to sing. Apparently, there was even a major campaign to try and prevent it from becoming our anthem back in the day!)

We took full advantage of streamable content, starting the night before when we hopped on to Disney+ to watch Hamilton the movie with our friends (when I snapped the post photo while relaxing on the couch). If you haven't seen it, please go check it out! That Disney+ subscription is a lot more afforable than $300+ Hamilton tickets. And even M, who usually hates everything musicals and Broadway, enjoyed it. Later, we're planning on catching the U.S. Air Force Band streaming their July 4 tribute and watching the official fireworks show online (if we can't see any from our apartment window). So we were able to capture at least some of the spirit of festivity we'd normally have on this day.

M and I are grateful to be home for this holiday and to have the time to reflect on the many ways we love our country. This list of things non-Americans said they love about us and watched this funny video of people around the world imitating us also put big smiles on our faces. So Happy Fourth of July from our home to yours, wherever you are in the world!

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