An Independence Day Review
by Jan Baughman

Another 4th transpired with minimal fanfare. There isn't much to get worked up over any more since fireworks are illegal in my town, and watching other people set them off is merely a tease. I've long since tired of Gershwin, even once a year, and the excitement of the Independence thing is wearing off a bit. A day off work, now that's exciting.

I watched hours of tennis and kept wondering how many Americans celebrate the 4th of July with a Wimbledon Party, serving strawberries and cream to their guests in white and pretending to be civilized and polite. I am quite certain that the British intentionally schedule Wimbledon to coincide with Independence Day as a subtle suggestion that we cannot live without them.

The newspapers were full of heart-warming melting-pot articles about the thousands of foreigners who made the pledge of allegiance and became Americans. This time of year, writers use words like "toil" and "perseverance" and "patriotism" instead of "slave" and "hunger" and "desperation". But it's not P.C. on this holiday to talk about what we do to the foreign non-citizens, so I'll leave that for another day.

I hosted the requisite barbecue. In honor of Hong Kong's independence from Great Britain I featured Asian dishes such as Korean Bulgalbi (marinated grilled short ribs) and Indonesian grilled prawns with cilantro vinaigrette. My guests seemed disappointed by the absence of hot dogs and corn-on-the-cob, and didn't even seem to catch the symbolism. The whole thing was a flop.

The worst part of the holiday was the death of Charles Kuralt. He was a man who didn't need fireworks or flag waving or starred-and-striped gimmicks to make us feel patriotic. He used simple words and poignant images to show us the facets of America that we pass by every day without notice. I bet he would have liked to see the pictures of Mars before he died.

Published July 5, 1997
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