Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The 4th of WHAT?



Well, another 4th of July came and went. Here in the Land of the Rising Missing Sun it was kind of like the proverbial war which was held, but no one came. American Independence Day got lots of media attention, but it simply didn't enter into the picture once the TV was turned off.

How unlike the 4th back in 2002, when feelings were still BLUE-hot. 9/11 had happened less than a year before, my country was at war against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and passions were already heating up over Iraq. Even the Japanese were watching the U.S. very carefully, and no one was surprised at the flags and things I propped up on my desks at Ye Olde Academy.

The 4th in 2003 was a bit different in tone but no less patriotic. The President had declared "Mission accomplished" from the deck of the carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln two months before, and a sense of pride was thick in the air even over here. In 2004, however, we were still in Iraq, the end of the war was nowhere in sight, things were starting to darken, and my attitude toward the whole thing was even blacker.

In 2005 the 4th got completely eclipsed by the visit from the Garfield High School Orchestra the day before and the preparations for our first (teachers only) visit to our new sister school in Caloundra a few weeks later. Perhaps the soon-to-occur first trip with students in 2006 also led to the 4th being all but forgotten, but at the time I seemed more interested in my cats, anyway.

So now we cut to the present. (Ahhh...) How did I spend the 4th? Thankfully getting the &%$# away from an open class event (i.e. parents spying on my lessons) so I could be a judge for an English Interactive Forum competition (i.e. an English conversation contest). Swapping out my classes was a pain in the behindermost, but it was worth it to get out of there. Besides, I judge that event every year, and it's usually kind of fun. The only problem is that I invariably end up with my wife furious at me because one or more of her students hasn't succeeded to the regional championship. This year was no different. It'll probably take her a day or two to cool down. I still stand by my judgment, however.

No parades. No barbecue. No fireworks. No "Stars and Stripes Forever" or "1812 Overture" blaring from the stereo. It was raining outside most of the day. Dinner came in a shrink-wrapped styrofoam tray compliments of the deli section of the local supermarket. (I was able to enjoy a good Australian cabernet sauvignon, however, so all was not lost.) (That's "claret" to you, m'lady!) Nothing fancy. Nothing unusual.

I did, however, celebrate by remembering everyone I know, particularly those of the Yankee persuasion, and wishing them all a very happy 4th of July. I remembered people I know who served their country with the armed forces in either Iraq or Afghanistan, and I recalled at least one who still is. We all express our love for our country in different and even contradictory ways. One person's "patriotism" may very well be another's "aid and comfort to the enemy". You may struggle to defend your country only to be branded "anti-american" by people who feel they are doing the same. Even so, even in this age of barbed wire-enclosed "free speech zones" and institutionalized harassment of public dissenters, I'm still happy that people are able to express contradictory opinions without fear of being dragged off to forced labor or a "reeducation camp". After all, our country was born in hopes that it would be a symbol of freedom, human rights, and human dignity for the entire world.

Let's hope it remembers to stay that way.

Happy 4th, people.

7 Comments:

  • happy 4th july there! =)

    By Anonymous angele, at 3:11 AM  

  • Oh I do enjoy a glass of claret :)

    And, yes, I am proud to be an American. But I won't say more than what...*ahem*.

    By Blogger Olivia, at 6:44 AM  

  • YEAH! Lets here it for the fourth of July. I celebrated by going over to my sister's house and we had a good old fashion barbecue.

    By Blogger Pa've, at 7:44 AM  

  • We did the usual neighborhood thing, but had the BBQ at an old neighbor's new house.

    Cops broke up the fun around 11:30 pm (they're really cracking down the illegal fireworks, not unlike Homela...I mean Multnomah County [who are absolutely ANAL about anything bigger than smoke bomb..]), but that was fine with us, as Snabby & I both had to work today.

    By Blogger ladybug, at 9:57 AM  

  • Happy 4th of July....

    No barbeque? :)

    By Blogger Selba, at 10:41 AM  

  • It appears that I have committed another literary faux paus by using the wrong version of HEAR!

    By Blogger Pa've, at 8:07 AM  

  • Pa've, if you're going to run for President you really need to watch your diction!

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 9:40 PM  

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