I have never spent much time considering the significance of Independence Day. For me, the 4th of July is simply a day to hang out with family and friends, eat lots of grilled meat, and possibly watch some fireworks.
Maybe my detached sentiment toward Independence Day is due to my Chinese-American heritage, or my upbringing in Hawaii (which has a unique culture that doesn’t quite feel typically American). In any case, I go through most 4ths of July without much thought given to the meaning of the day and the history behind it.
This weekend, however, I experienced a small but rather noteworthy moment of clarity about the meaning of Independence Day. I was listening to a group of people sing God Bless America, and suddenly thought of my one-year-old son. My little son doesn’t know what country he lives in, nor is he aware of the values and ideals it is based on. But I do. I know that even though there are some really awful things about America’s past and present, there are also some truly beautiful things. Things like freedom and liberation. And fighting for justice and human rights. And striving for excellence and ingenuity. As a mother, I am grateful that my children will grow up as citizens of a country where they can become anything they want to be. I am grateful that there are models of character and courage that my children can find in the American history books. I am grateful that my children live in a place where they don’t need to live in fear due to their skin tone or religion.
I am thankful to be an American citizen. Happy (belated) Independence Day.