Happy Fourth of July!

I love our flag.

I’ve been trying to decide all day whether I feel more American today or on Thanksgiving. I spent Thanksgiving of 2010 abroad and I felt so incredibly American. And even though I’m not abroad today, I’ve spent the day feeling incredibly American.

Being American is strange sometimes, though. Americans are the only people looked down upon for defending their country. I feel like if someone criticizes Germany or France, for example, and a native of either of those countries defends their country, people may still think that person’s defense is wrong or misguided, but forgive him or her because “oh, well she’s French” or “he was born in Germany, didn’t you know.”

Whereas if an American objects to anti-Americanism and defends the United States, that person is immediately labeled an “ugly American” who is obviously ignorant by virtue of being an American. A corollary of this is it is fashionable and regarded as okay to criticize the United States, but not any other country. Once I was studying with my friend J. (who is American, born and raised) and she kept making jabs at the US. Some were deserved, some not. And yet, when I made a jab at the British (I said their food was terrible, which it is!), she flipped out. “There’s nothing wrong with British food,” she said rudely. “I found it not to be to my liking,” I informed her. After all, I lived there for one academic year and got to experience all sorts of strange concoctions. I thought it was ridiculous (and frankly, stupid) that she would openly attack her own country, but no other countries.

I’m proud of being an American, so I am going to dedicate this post to what I love about living here and being American.

  1. Opportunities. It sounds cheesy and cliche, but it’s true. In this country, if you work hard, there are more opportunities than in certain other modern countries. If you are American and study hard, you stand a much better chance of getting into a top university here than an equivalent British student in the UK. At the university I studied abroad at, the vast majority of people came from the elite independent schools in the UK. I can think of only four people from state schools – and though they were allegedly inferior in the eyes of some British elites, they were the nicest and hardest-working people I knew. Go figure.
  2. Freedom of speech. Being able to say what you want is pretty amazing, if you think about it. People in many other countries simply don’t have this right, yet Americans take it for granted.
  3. Friendliness. Obviously there are loads of friendly, nice people in other countries, but friendliness is so engrained in American customer service. Don’t believe me? Go try to return a brand-new item to a British store. You’ll appreciate how friendly we are here in a way you never could have imagined.
  4. Quality of higher education. Don’t get me wrong, higher education is WAY to expensive here. But the quality is unparalleled. In Russia, the system is corrupt and you can bribe your way to a diploma (a Russian told me this – I have no personal experience with the Russian education system). In Britain, at the one of the top universities in the UK, a history student I had a tutorial with honestly did not that HIV was not around in the nineteenth century. History students often do not study any history outside of Europe. Don’t get me wrong, I love European history. But I am so grateful my alma mater’s history department curriculum requirements forced me to take an intensive seminar on Africa. I may have complained about it, but I’m so glad I took it because I learned so much.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. I’ll stop going on and on and instead post some patriotic songs. Happy fourth of July, everyone!

Unlike so many singers today, Whitney Houston actually could sing. I love national anthems, and I particularly enjoyed this recording. I hope you like it too!

I like our national anthem just fine, but if another song were to be our anthem, I’d want it to be this one, America the Beautiful. By the way, a music student sang this at my commencement and it was amazing.

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