The 4th of July is a uniquely American holiday.
During dinner the other night, my beloved posed a question. “Which holiday is truly American and isn’t shared with any other country?” We debated whether or not birthday observances are holidays. They are not. I pointed out that other countries celebrate independence days too. So could it be said that July 4th is uniquely American? Perhaps not. And yet, where else in the world do hot dogs, watermelons, and fireworks echo in the familiar strains of a John Phillips Sousa march? Nowhere.
While our Independence Day is not unique, how we celebrate is based upon our American culture. I’m fairly positive that I am not the only one that has a specific (and tacky?) patriotic wardrobe that is only worn in the days leading up to the 4th. I’m sure the French would never be caught dead in a pair of blue seer-sucker crop pants adorned with red stars. Neither would I – except in July when they become my favorite pants.
My memories of summer are often tied to Independence Day celebrations, whether it was sitting on our roof watching the fireworks or playing with sparklers in our backyard. Our family often went on vacations over the Fourth holiday. The mines would shut down for two weeks, Daddy would get home at midnight, and we’d be on the road by 2:00 AM.
Our favorite places to visit were out west. Those family vacations were grand adventures. With the steering wheel in one hand and a homemade Rice Krispy Treat in the other, my parents discovered America with their kids in the backseat of a Pontiac.
Thanks to my father’s need to explore, our adventures often included the curious places across America. Area 51? Been there. Roswell? Done that. If there was a college on our route, we stopped for t-shirts. We saw it all: the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, California beaches, the Great Salt Lake, ghost towns, casinos, rodeos, museums, national parks, reservations, and everything in between. If Rand-McNally thought a destination was important enough to include on the map in italics, we stopped. After all, who were we to question Rand McNally? I have a wealth of knowledge about barbed wire thanks to them pointing out a museum in Tombstone, Arizona.
Neither my beloved nor my son is comfortable with jumping in the car and heading to unknown places. Picnics have replaced the road trips of my childhood. The highlight of this year’s picnic will be my Star-Spangled Spectacular Pie featuring fresh blackberries and a flaky pie crust. Based on a recipe developed by Cathy Barrow of Mrs. Wheelbarrows Kitchen, it is a beauty with its enchanting pie-crust stars. Here’s the link to her blog post on a perfect pie crust and here is a link her Blue Ribbon Sour Cherry Pie Filling.
This Independence Day, I encourage you to pull out your favorite Old Glory t-shirt, eat a hot dog, and rediscover what makes us all truly American. It’s not politics. It’s not lines drawn on a map. It’s the spirit of our people, whether they were born here or they came looking for freedom. We’re all Americans on the 4th of July.
Star Spangled Blackberry Pie
4 c fresh blackberries (or any fresh fruit)
3/4 c organic sugar
2 T corn starch
2 T butter
1/2 t lemon zest
1/4 t cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Toss berries with sugar, corn starch, lemon zest and cinnamon. Pour into pie crust. Dot with butter. Scatter stars across the top of the pie. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 40 minutes.