There really is something to be said for those formative years and childhood experiences that make us who we are as adults. When I was about six, my family moved to Houston. And like every other American city, Houston LOVES Independence Day. And I remember going to arts and crafts festivals before settling down on a blanket with late snacks listening to the Houston Symphony Orchestra play John Phillips Sousa and Tchaikovsky at the Herman Park Amphitheater.
It's those festivals and the fellow audience members that captured the spirit of America the Beautiful. It was an incredibly diverse crowd full of different accents and languages. There were people who have been Americans for generations, some that were new citizens, and some (I would assume) working towards citizenship. It was a spectacular gathering of Us.
As the years went on, and as my eyes steadily opened more and more, I would always find myself in a wonderfully diverse crowd on Independence Day; making friends, albeit briefly, from strangers, and wishing everyone a sense of joy and belonging, even in the face of adversity.
I am not a naive person. I know that this country, like all others, has had and continues to suffer with serious issues of prejudice, sexism, extreme nationalism and isolationism. But, I still firmly believe in the vision and the dream that is Us as symbolized by those fireworks invented during the Tang Dynasty in China, those apples brought to the colonies from Europe, and barbecue...well everyone on earth has been slow-cooking over an open flame for thousands of years. And I firmly believe that this amazing country is meant to be as diverse and complex as her landscape.