It’s July 4th, and if there is one thing Americans know how to do, it is hold a patriotic party. Being Canadian, I am part of a country known more for its politeness and low key attitude so I have always been in awe of the Americans when it comes to this kind of thing.
I have been in the U.S. on July 4th twice in my life, and both times it was spectacular. The pomp and ceremony was grandiose, there was stars and stripes everywhere, and of course there was plenty of food and drink with American favourites in abundance.
The first time as a young teen at basketball camp in Pullman, WA. I had never seen a fireworks show like that before – wow! And that was just for all of us campers being hosted at the university campus. We had hot dogs for dinner, on tables dressed with bunting and flags. For dessert as a special treat we got apple pie.
The American girls wanted to know if we had a party in Canada (they had no idea about Canada
Day). They also asked about Canadian food, not expecting that much of what we ate was at least similar (you couldn’t get Babe Ruth chocolate bars or Dr Pepper in Canada when I was a kid, but I never felt that I suffered).
This was before the internet and online shopping, so I suppose you can excuse some ignorance of Canadian culture.
My next Independence Day experience was taking a bunch of teenagers, when I was part of a Girl Guide trip to Spokane for the July 4th holiday. We were downtown at Riverfront Park, so there was not only the fireworks show but also the full carnival atmosphere from food trucks to craft vendors and all manner of buskers.
We saw dance troops, marching bands, a capella singers, a one-man band, a magician, and a fire
juggler. I even had a chance to try a deep-fried Mars bar. The girls were overwhelmed by the scope of the celebration; it opened a door to a new understanding of a different world, as many of them had never left Canada before.
We celebrated 150 years of Canada as a country this year. I did see more Canadian flags on cars and tattoos on people’s faces. We knew more people who had parties, and we catered a party for people who had done all kinds of decorating at their lakefront house, and hired a fireworks barge to do a show on the lake for their guests. It was heartwarming, and fun – I could even say patriotic. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and felt a rush of pride at being a part of our great country.
It is important to give credit where it is due – as I type this, I’m watching fireworks set off from five barges in the New York harbour. The West Point band and glee club are singing a medley of patriotic songs in tune to the explosions. Cheers and good health to all you Americans out there. Here’s to your spirit!
Today is the day we celebrate being Canadians. For 146 years we have existed as our own country, having come into our own from our British roots as a colony. We love to gather with friends and loved ones and enjoy the bounty we are privileged to have. We have BBQ’s and beach parties, we attend parades and fireworks shows and we might even wave a flag, in a polite manner, being Canadian.
As Canadians we enjoy a New World identity – we are a first world country with many rights and freedoms. But we don’t like to stand out or seem in any way aggressive; we are known more for apologizing than speaking out. Blowing our own horn is not something we do and so a day that is all about doing just that can be a bit awkward at times.
The good thing is that Canada Day encourages us to get just a little more
enthusiastic about flag waving and horn blowing. We deserve it; our forefathers earned us that right. We can navel gaze the rest of the year.
So, get out here and cheer for your country. Sing the anthem, wave your flag and applaud the fireworks and the parade. If you don’t know where to go to so these things, visit the ever-so polite website that has such info.
Happy CANADA Day!!