I’ve been celebrating 4th of July for 18 years now, and every year my feelings are mixed. They became even more ambivalent since Anna was born. See, it’s not my holiday. I am an American citizen now, but I haven’t been brought up with this anticipation of parades, big feasts and fireworks. The closest thing we had to 4th of July was probably a WWII Victory Day that was celebrated on May 9th. I feel like an outsider during Independence Day even when I am sitting outside exchanging pleasantries with my middle class white American neighbors and watching fireworks. Speaking of pleasantries, I am really not good at American small talk. I couldn’t care less about football or baseball, I don’t watch reality TV, and I have no idea what is going on with American Idol or Dancing with the Stars. When I was working as a traveling consultant, I used to skim a newspaper in the morning, so I could appear “in the know” of what’s going on locally. I don’t think I could live anywhere except around New York or Silicon Valley – here I can find a lot of people like us with the same challenges we do. We are raising American children while debating with ourselves and our families about how “Americanized” we want them to be and knowing that the matter will be out of our hands anyway. I have no illusions – my daughter will be an American. She will probably learn her anthem, Lincoln Gettysburg Address, and her Pledge of Allegiance in kindergarten without having the foggiest idea what some of the words mean. What I hope for is that she will learn eventually what it means to be a true patriot, how to stand for what she believes in and how to see beyond the relatively safe borders of America into the problems of the world.
Happy birthday, America! Many happy and peaceful returns of the day.
Question: What parts of American culture would you like your children to adopt and what parts would you like them to avoid?