This year marks the first time I haven’t been on American soil for the 4th of July. Granted, I’m only in Canada, and even then only a little over 130 miles or so from the border. Regardless, there’s nobody around me wearing the red, white, and blue, and it’s a little bit strange.
It seems like July is just the month of choice for places to separate themselves from Great Britain, though, as Canada celebrates their own holiday on July 1st. Since Canada didn’t exactly have a clear-cut separation from Britain, like America did with the whole dumping tea into a harbor and signing a big formal paper on the 4th, Canada doesn’t really call their holiday “Independence Day” or anything like that.
What do they call it? Canada Day. Just that. Nothing more.
I love that fact. I joked with Amanda that it was almost like they were looking for names and just didn’t feel like trying that hard, but at the same time, it’s pretty nice. It’s not necessarily celebrating any specific aspect of their country, it’s just a celebration of the country itself. No reason to narrow the celebration down. Just go ahead and celebrate Canada. All of it.
I spent my first ever Canada Day in the small town of Lion’s Head, located in the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron. It’s a beautiful little old port town, where the residents (of which there probably are just a few hundred) like to keep to themselves and give the feeling that they would dispose of any nosy outsiders if need be. Stephen King would love Lion’s Head.
But Lion’s Head opens itself up to outsiders on Canada Day, having a pretty neat little fireworks display over some docks. It was a neat day, and it was neat to see so many people proudly dressed out in red and white. Maple leafs (as I think everyone is supposed to say when near Toronto, right?) were displayed outside every house. After the fireworks, a small group seated near us started singing “O Canada” which slowly spread out until a good number were joining in. It was a really nice display of patriotism for a country that often doesn’t seem to care about being outspoken.
Today, I miss my home. I miss celebrating with friends and family. I miss my dad’s smoked ribs and my mom’s sweet tea. I miss the fireworks being shot off over the twin lakes of the conference center I used to work at, along with my close friend Zack, and my little sister Mary Palmer. I miss eating so much catfish with Chandler that we feel drunk. I miss discussing music with Jason and cursing at video games with Daniel. I miss sitting out on my front porch in the wheelchair we found at a thrift store and enjoying a cigar and a glass of single malt scotch with my roommate Keith.
Today, I miss America.
I think it’s a little unpopular to be a fan of America. It’s kind of uncool. All the cool kids are more intereted in judging all of America’s flaws. That’s cool, it clearly has them. You know, just like every other place on the planet. It’s fine to be a fan today, but you can’t be too open about it, because you get looked at funny.
I’m currently reading through Donald Miller’s Searching For God Knows What, which is, admittedly, a book that I read about 154 pages of before I found something I fully agreed with it. In it, Miller talks a bit about how we tend to get this nationalistic mindset where we think God put all of history into motion in order to get America founded, and that’s true and all. The value of humanity isn’t dependent on where they’re from, and that’s nice. But at the same time, does that mean we aren’t allowed to love America? Does that mean that we’re not allowed to think that God didn’t have a role in the founding of the country, just as He has ruled all countries that came before?
It’s a little bit hard to argue with Miller and people who share the “all you need is love” viewpoint because even if you don’t necessarily think they are WRONG, you can still be branded as a backwards conservative who is too closed minded and is getting in the way of progress. It’s not really “cool” to be that sort of thing, right? It’s not cool to say that you like America more than other places. You’re supposed to not like where you are and be in love with everywhere else.
But that’s the beauty of America. I’m thankful to live in a place where people can still choose to be cool or uncool. I am thankful to live in a place where Donald Miller writes and I can read all of it, whether or not I always agree with him. I am thankful to live in a place where people can have differing opinions, and I can be as “hip” or as “backwards” as I like. I am thankful that some 200-something years ago, a bunch of guys decided they needed to make a country where this is possible. I am thankful that, despite what many may think, we HAVE done a good job of keeping the government smaller and not controlling every aspect of our lives. I am also thankful that I live in a place that has allowed me to come up here to Canada and spend my summer.
Today, I celebrate America Day while here in Canada. Not just remembering those men years ago who signed the Declaration, but remembering all of the things about my home that I do, unashamedly, love.
Running the risk of being quite uncool, I am thankful to be an American. I think God has, in fact, blessed America, and I pray that He continues to do so.