America, 2013 Years Old Today!

I mean 237 years old. That’s confusing to some.

In case you’ve never seen the movie, the Fourth of July, or Independence Day, is an American holiday that celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Thirteen Colonies — a declaration of independence from Great Britain.

Other holidays (Thanksgiving, Labor Day, etc) feel vaguely foreign if you didn’t grow up with them, but as a British person living in the United States, it feels weird to celebrate this particular holiday. Or it did, at first, until I realized a few things.

  • I’m Scottish, so I can certainly sympathize with people who gained their independence from Britain. Who knows, perhaps Scotland will have its own Independence Day soon.

  • Not only that, at the time when the declaration was signed, all of my forebears were Irish, another nation not exactly known for their love of the British.

  • I have an American wife, so I’m becoming more and more inculturated as time wears on. My accent was already atrocious from living in such a variety of places, and it’s fairly transatlantic now.

The thing is, even if none of that were true, I’d still happily celebrate today, because I think the Fourth of July is only partly about breaking free of the British and gaining independence.

Sure, its about that. But it’s also a celebration of a lot of other things — much more important things. Family, for example, and good friends. Fireworks. Tasty food, and refreshing beverages. The joy of being alive on a beautiful sunny day in July. Americans are great at celebrating these intangibles, even if they have to call it something else to make it a federal holiday.

So Happy Birthday, America! I’m glad I made it to your party.