There were no firework displays last night in the English countryside. Yesterday was the 4th of July and I feel nostalgic about my American roots. Though we did not have a 4th celebration at the Cottage, Ouisie and I did race around the garden waving our American flags to my improvised version of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
This patriotic holiday conjures up childhood memories of neighbourhood pool parties with Lee Greenwood and Willie Nelson music on repeat. Fried chicken, burgers, and Bluebell ice cream were the kids’ must-haves, while our parents stayed cool in the sweltering Texas summer courtesy of a hired margarita machine.
I enjoyed reading emails and Facebook posts with photos of family and friends’ children dressed in their best red, white and blue. Though the little ones do not yet grasp the freedom bestowed upon them, national pride was evident in their enthusiastic flag waving at hometown parades.
I love my American stars and stripes, but realise I also have an affinity for the Union Jack. Raising our daughter in a foreign country has made me be more conscious of my need to teach her about the history and traditions of not only my beloved America and Chef’s native France, but of Great Britain.
At 3-months, she drooled over the Royal Wedding of Will and Kate. At 18-months, she cheered on the Queen during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. On each visit to London we look for the Queen and count red double decker buses. We have tea together in the afternoon and enjoy picking summer strawberries. In showing her the best of Britain, my love of this nation grows deeper.
In her first 2.5 years Ouisie has flown across the Atlantic three times. She has taken her first bite of the Big Apple and fell head over boots for Texas barbecue ribs. She has just had a small taste of my homeland. In America, Britain and France, Ouisie is free to live, study, work, and enjoy equal rights and freedom. Our daughter’s world is open to explore because of the men and women before who fought and sacrificed their lives for basic human rights.
Last week America upheld her promise of equal freedom to all when the US Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Finally, the same Federal rights bestowed on traditional marriages is extended to same sex marriages. What a fitting time it is then to celebrate our nation’s freedom. I applaud the Supreme Court and the millions who have lobbied for this inalienable right. For the lives lost senselessly due to discrimination and hate, today I salute you.
We are living in a pivotal and uncertain time in history. The people of Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East are in the streets demanding their basic human rights that we, too often, take for granted. I recently read a quote by the late Franklin D. Roosevelt which still resonates today:
The only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over the government.
It is by chance that we were born in a country that celebrates education, entrepreneurial success and equal rights. Everyday we should remember to count our democratic nation as a tremendous blessing.
I am proud to be an American. Chef is proud to be French. But we also take great pride in celebrating and sharing in the British traditions. Years from now, Ouisie will freely choose her own path and country of residence. My hope is that wherever she chooses to call home, her heritage will serve as a solid foundation from which to build.
Happy (day after) Independence Day!