When I was young, our ward would go up the mountains and camp overnight, with a patriotic fireside by, well, the fire. It was so much fun. After a few years of this, they no longer had campouts, but we'd still go up to the church that morning for breakfast and a flag ceremony. I loved it.
Along with that, we'd have a huge pool party that our city pool hosted where there were races to win little coupons for around our tiny town, along with them throwing several dollars in coins into the pool.
That night we'd either do fireworks at our house or we'd drive to the local college to watch fireworks and have picnic.
Did I mention how much I loved growing up where I did? (By the way, you see a lot of where I grew up in my books. Write what you know, right?)
Anyway, flash forward several years and a trip to Australia. I loved it there. With all the bad things that happened, I still loved it there. But it wasn't home. It wasn't America. Their laws for repairing things, and their medical practices and so on, were not HOME. I wanted to go back where I could have my American flag.
We spent the 4th of July there, and to celebrate, we went to TGI Fridays to get the most American meal we could find. Our waiter was from America and I wanted to hug him. There were no fireworks (They're not allowed for citizens, by the way), but at least we got our steak, mashed potatoes, and corn on the cob.
We were home by the 21st of July after getting sick from yet another house. I wanted to cry when I saw our flag again for the first time. As we drove back from LA to St. George (soooo much cheaper than flying those last few hundred miles—even in two cars so we could fit our stuff!), I was thrilled to watch the landscape—MY American landscape—go by. And summer was finally back in the actual summertime. We'd left the winter back behind in Melbourne.
A few days later we went to a show at the Desert Star with some friends. I LOVE that place. The skits are hilarious, and it's just a fun atmosphere. At the end, they normally have a medley of songs that they goof up and it's hilarious. This time, it happened to be patriotic songs.
While people around me laughed, I sat there with tears rolling down my cheeks. I was home. And these songs depicted why America is so great. And while the lady sang God Bless the USA in Sarah Palin's voice, I bawled. This is MY country and I'm proud to call it mine.
Our country is going through a lot right now and the majority isn't great. We're set for a historical presidential election and I'm not looking forward to the outcome. But America is still mine. It's still ours. And I hope we can always remember that.
God Bless America. And Happy Fourth of July!!