Today is the day that the United States of America, the country I am from, celebrates its' independence. Today is the 3rd time I have been abroad for the 4th of July. Well, technically one of those other times I was on a plane of the Atlantic somewhere. But celebrating America's day in a foreign land with British housemates and co-workers from all over the world...is a pretty interesting experience!
Being in Australia today has actually made me feel more proud and patriotic for my country than ever before, and made me miss being home too. It has been four years since I was home for the 4th, and although Hawaii is part of our country, it is as close to being foreign as you can get and still be in the USA, it hasn't been the same. I've been working on the boats watching the fireworks from outside the harbor. Which is still pretty cool. I spent the the first 17 Independence Days of my life in Wells, Nevada (Not Wales the country) to be with family at my grandmas house. It was always a great time. We would play with my cousins at the rocket ship park and go swimming at the tiny pool (assuming you could pass the mandatory swim test first). I would try to ride grandmas huge dog Diesel like a horse and would successfully ride on top of the fire engines that would drive around town picking up all the kids. Then we would watch with excitement as a man with a flare would light a single firework at a time then walk away. It would go off and we would ooohhh and aaahhh until the man walked back and lit another one. It was pretty exciting. Needless to say, the first time I saw a fireworks show where more than one went off at a time, I was blown away.
When the Wells tradition faded away I still didn't spend too many 4ths at home. I was away in Bulgaria after the first one, then I was surfing in California, or backpacking in the Wind Rivers, or doing something else, I honestly can't remember. But the best ones have always been with family and friends doing some summer activity and barbecuing along with some great fireworks. I love it all and I love the holiday and I love the country. Going to the pool, water skiing, fishing, surfing, eating hamburgers, lighting fireworks, etc. etc. are all very American things to be doing today. Which is why...today has been so strange.
I went to work today. Not unheard of but still not the norm, but...work today was teaching ski lessons. Ski lessons on snow that is. About as un-4th of July as you can get. It's cold, it's winter, and I haven't seen a firework go off all day. To cap it off, I'm watching some huge rugby match that seems to be on par with the superbowl. (thanks to the little guy in my class today who explained the many intricacies of the game to me) This rugby match has been the talk of the town all day, not the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Not to worry though, I spent the whole day skiing around the mountain belting the national anthem as loud as I could, with a few verses from America the Beautiful and that proud to be an American song. I wasn't allowed to wear my American flag as a cape, apparently it could get snagged on a ski lift or something. So I took it upon myself to teach everyone in my lessons the history of how we won our independence and explained why it's the best country in the world and why our version of English is the most correct (it's because when anyone sings they sound American). The Aussie kids seemed to enjoy my patriotic bellowing. I got a few fist pumps and USA chants from random strangers, and all the American instructors here would chime in for a verse or two as we crossed paths on the mountain. I fear that my British housemates and co-workers grew quite weary of my constant reminders of the origin of this great holiday. Their excuses and pretend naivety were unheard and unwarranted. Even when the French girl complained that our revolution bankrupted her country and sent them into a civil war, I politely reminded her of a few events called world wars and she quickly called the score even.
Living in a foreign country, even one of the first world, has only made me realize how great my country is. I am loving this experience so far, but I really miss the much more user friendly light switches, fountain machines, urinals, and everything else in America. So this Independence day has been very different for me, and despite the very worst of American TV that is shown in this country; the fact remains that in a place where I am surrounded by people from all over the world...I am still and always will be proud to be an American.