I know the Fourth of July probably isn’t significant to people outside of the U.S. In fact, I could see how our rampant patriotism once a year could be obnoxious. But as a born-and-bred American, I’m taking this day to revel in tradition. From drinking booze with my best friends, to barbecuing, to wearing some combination of red, white and blue, what’s not to love about July 4th? Okay, there’s probably a lot: drunken idiots, sunburn (from which I will probably suffer,) country music. But let’s put aside all that negativity; July 4th is a holiday. It’s a real holiday on which those of us with office jobs get to take off work in the middle of the week and kick back. (For those of you who have to work, I’m truly and deeply sorry. Your job sucks, unless you like it I guess.) So in the spirit of celebrating the United States, freedom, and Captain America (or whatever,) here are some of my favorite parts of the holiday.
In the spirit of full disclosure, when I was a kid I was totally afraid of fireworks; I wasn’t–and still am not–a fan of loud noises. But as an American, I was born with a delight for bright colors and anything that goes BOOM! Of course, there are fireworks that don’t make loud noises, namely sparklers. Sparklers get a bad rap for being the worst fireworks for the very reason that they aren’t frighteningly noisy, but they’re still enjoyable. Also, fireworks are fun any time of the year. I’ve been hearing fireworks for weeks leading up to July 4th and I’m sure many people will be using up their leftover firecrackers throughout the weekend. So if you’re in one of the states that don’t allow fireworks (I’m looking at you New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Massachusetts,) I hope you stocked up and are gearing up for an explosive Fourth of July.
Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”
Not only am I American, I’m also from New Jersey, so if you thought we were getting through this list without The Boss, you thought wrong. Bruce Springsteen isn’t necessarily my cup of tea and most of the year I don’t make a habit of listening to his music. Don’t get me wrong, I have a healthy respect for the man, and his live version of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” is one of my favorite Christmas songs. So I don’t think I’d want to go through a Fourth of July without hearing “Born in the U.S.A.” Maybe it’s not officially our national anthem, but it might as well be.
Born down in a dead man’s town / the first kick I took was when I hit the ground / you end up like a dog that’s been beat too much / till you spend half your life just covering up / Born in the U.S.A. / I was born in the U.S.A.
I suppose this category could be opened up to include all grilled and/or barbecued food, but hot dogs are the best Fourth of July food for two reasons. First, there is the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island at noon on July 4th. It’s televised and the Joey Chestnut / Takeru Kobayashi rivalry is epic (although we all know Joey Chestnut is the best.) Second, there are at least 80 different ways to dress your dog, many of those inspired by different regions of America. If you’d rather betray your country, you could try the British hot dog with horseradish and sharp cheddar–or the High Tea with cold butter and thinly sliced cucumber (yikes.) Hot Dogs are certainly one of the most versatile foods for Fourth of July, and to me, the holiday wouldn’t be the same without them.
Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, and Bill Pullman fight aliens on July 4th–what’s not to love? Independence Day is such a great movie that not only do they still show it for days after the Fourth of July, they’re also making a sequel almost 20 years later. Though Smith will not be joining Goldblum and Pullman for the sequel, the original film was arguably the movie that launched his career and for good reason. Independence Day is a national treasure that A&E rolls out to celebrate our country’s birthday. Plus Pullman, as President Thomas J. Whitmore, gives one of the best–if not the best–speeches in movie history. For me, Fourth of July is not complete until I cheers my friends while yelling, “We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight!”
And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!
Have a great day everyone, whether you’re celebrating or not, and watch out for those aliens!