God Bless America.

The first Fourth of July I experienced as an Adult Third Culture Kid was in 2008. We went to some highly political parade in the middle of the country. We saw cool vintage cars and confident marching bands. I was offered artificial food at a fair: bright red candied apples on a stick, funnel cake, “cheese curds”, hotdogs on sticks (“corndogs”), bright purple cotton candy. “I’ll pass” I said, completely in awe that people would eat this stuff. That weekend, we went to a church in which the pastor proclaimed “this is the greatest country on earth!”. Guys, he wasn’t even joking. As someone who has traveled extensively, this statement was not only inaccurate and offensive but absolutely infuriating. I mean, let’s at least compare apples with apples at a minimum. “We are the best at artificially colorful food” or “We have the greatest rates of obesity” seemed to be more accurate statements, since a country obviously cannot be the greatest at everything. We sang some cultural pro-military songs and proclaimed “God bless America” as if it were the Lord’s Prayer. “Gag! Puke” I wrote in my journal as the others were pledging allegiance to the American flag. I was absolutely appalled by the sheer arrogance and poor theology of this church. As if God didn’t want to bless all the other countries in the world. I’ll spare you of the words I used to describe that day in my journal.

Fast-forward to 2014. While I still feel like such statements are a bit sheltered, I think I have come a long way on this Third Culture Kid journey. Today, I can see how immigrant neighbors would want to celebrate the opportunities they have found in this new land. With my cultural glasses on, I feel like it is not a bad thing in itself for people to celebrate their country and values that are unique to this land: family, faith, generosity, creativity, kindness.. Even fun to have BBQs, enjoy family, friends and fireworks. I still do not feel like the American flag particularly represents freedom to me, and I definitely wouldn’t go out of my way to eat all-American food. But, I can go about my daily life without dreading this holiday like before, quite literally 364 days out of the year. I have to say, I was especially grateful to the American government for giving the country a holiday so we could enjoy a brunch and watch a France-Germany football match at our place this year. 😉 Indeed, we were all appropriately dressed in the French supporting colors bleu blanc rouge, which double up as American colors. That must have been the very first Fourth of July we were all dressed up in Red-White-Blue! After a lazy day, TM and I even enjoyed watching some fireworks on our porch, White Russians mixed drinks in hand, long after the children were in bed. All in all, we had a pretty great July 4th. God Bless America! …and all the other countries in the world too for that matter!

4 thoughts on “God Bless America.

    1. Thanks, lady! Can’t wait to see you in person soon and maybe even if we get the time, to discuss your thoughts surrounding 4th July from the perspective of someone who has celebrated this holiday for many years before living in Africa for several more and coming back. Also interesting to think about how the holiday feels different in and out of country…

  1. After living in 9 different countries in 14 years, I’ve been living in the US for 2 years, and not in any city, but in Washington DC, “the capital of the free world”. I wasn’t completely sold on the move because exactly what you say here. But it was the best option at the time. Two years on and I don’t regret it, but I am not trying to get a green card and I don’t think I will ever get all-american, and I have a hard time watching my kids become exactly that…

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Cecilia! You have lived quite the highly mobile life! When we first arrived here, I thought I had just stepped inside a comic book where everything was a caricature of real-life. From the oversized cars and giant food portions, to the loud voices and cowboy hats, I struggled to see where I would fit in. Today, a lot has changed to where I know I can create a home in which our cultural values are all around us and not lose sleep at night about how American my son might become. While I still bump into obnoxious ignorant/arrogant personalities at times, they don’t seem to bother me quite as much. I feel more sad that they didn’t get to experience the world like your family has! And thankfully, I have a husband who celebrates the cultural diversity in our home. That is a huge piece of our story I think.
      I read this article on the Evolution of Third Culture Kids (here: http://libbystephens.com/blog/third-culture-kids/46-the-evolution-of-the-tck-the-cultural-sponge) and realize that the real mark of a transformation within us is to be able to arrive at that fourth stage, trans-nationalism, where you can not only survive but thrive anywhere…

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