This is where I spent my Fourth of July:
No, the Florida evening sky didn’t really look like that. It looked a million times more vibrant, if you can believe it. (Mobile Bay Bears vs. Jacksonville Suns @ Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. You may think our field’s name is tacky, but it’s located directly behind the Maxwell House coffee plant. Baseball Grounds – coffee grounds. Now you get it. We think it’s clever.)
The significance of spending my Independence Day at a minor league baseball game was certainly acknowledged. And by that I mean I paid $5 in parking, $18 for seats, $3 for a snowcone, $3 more for a Coke, and $3 for the kid’s hot dog. Then we watched our home team lose by one run, but not for a lack of trying. It was a sight to see that poor catcher at the plate, swinging and hitting foul balls just to keep the game alive. After about 5 minutes of knocking them over the netting, the foul line, and the home plate backwards, he swung and missed and that was that. Game over.
Then there was a magnificent fireworks show directly on top of us, with Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American” as the musical backdrop. That song can get the waterworks going in me even when it’s 3:49pm on June 7th, which is just some random day. But the Fourth of July at a baseball game with fireworks? Pppttthh, I was a’weepin’. Though just a little. I did have to close my eyes a few times because of the rapid succession of bright flashes and explosions in an effort to ward off any kind of epileptic freakout, so my wishy-washy eyes had a chance to recover from getting all misty. Nobody around me suspected a thing.
On the way to the car, my daughter said she was so happy she could cry. I know what she meant. There’s a boastful kind of pride we Americans carry with us and that can be sadly mistaken for arrogance, for cockiness, for plain old-fashioned self-importance. It’s often interpreted as the kind of overbearing pompousness that has made our country plenty of enemies but that has secured our country just as many, if not more, allies. Instead of being the elephants in the room, Americans are the peacocks in the room. Our feathers on display for all the world to see.
And why shouldn’t we? I mean, hello!!! We are pretty flippin’ awesome.
It’s not like we keep snatching the spotlight from some other country, like Kanye West did to Taylor Swift. We’re not stepping on anyone’s toes to be this damn cool. We’ve kicked a few asses in our time and even had our ass handed to us once or twice before. That’s how it works. Yet we still manage to be the best damn country in the world. And that’s why people risk their lives to be one of us, to be one of ours, to be Americans. I’ve seen newly sworn in citizens walk away from a ceremony into the arms of their American loved ones, crying tears of happiness that they can finally say I am an American!
We Americans don’t take this lightly. In fact, we totally get it. It’s how we feel about it, too.