A few thoughts on today’s U.S. Independence Day. It’s an extra-special one for us because it’s my wife’s first as a U.S. citizen. And she is – as you know if you visit regularly – British.
It’s also the first one for some time in which we are actually physically present in the U.S. We have often laughed on our trips around the U.S. over the years as to how the history of “1776 and all that” seems a bit awkward at times. Invariably, at some point, she’d hear some tour guide say something like this:
“Welcome. This is where George Washington lived. He was our first president. He led the American army in battle against the British.”
“This is the home of Thomas Jefferson. He is most famous for writing the Declaration of Independence during the war with Britain. He also once said he would have sunk that whole island into the sea.”
“Here, at Yorktown, this is where the Americans and the French cut off the British under Lord Cornwallis, and the British army eventually surrendered.”
She accepts all of that. That was then, she jokes; and things have changed rather a lot since. And, earlier this morning, she reminded me with a smile that this is “her country” too now.
However, one matter she is never too happy about is, uh, that “the French” were here! ;-)
The famous Tricolor we know so well is not the French flag under which France aided the U.S. in the war. The French flag then was that of the Ancien Régime. During the 1790s, Americans became split on whether they owed the new French revolutionary regime anything, given that regime was not the one that had helped America win independence.
And the U.S. Stars and Stripes was not the flag under which independence was declared either. But never mind. It all gets too complicated. :-)
Happy 4th of July!
UPDATE: That said, one Lynn Cole, resident in Italy, shares this view in The Guardian:
I am not a god-fearing, gun-toting, flag-waving, red-blooded American but a world citizen, and always have been.
She would hardly be the first to fancy herself a “world citizen.” To confirm it, my suggestion for anyone who holds that opinion is the next time you approach a border officer in airport arrivals in New York, London, Paris, Rome, or wherever globally, that you inform the officer of that status. A U.S., or other country’s, passport will no doubt not then be required of you as you are warmly greeted, “Welcome, World Citizen.”