When I realized we would be out of the country for July 4th, the most patriotic of American holidays, it gave me pause. Was this unpatriotic of me? Did I not care enough about my country?
My gut instinct was no, but it took a trip down memory lane to remind me of such.
According to Merriam-Webster, patriotism is defined as:
“love for or devotion to one’s country.”
I’d wager a guess that most of us consider ourselves patriotic.
But how do we show it? Is it reserved for Independence Day (or our homeland equivalent) or is there a way we show our patriotism throughout the year?
After a bit of mulling, I’d tell you that when I’m on home soil my patriotism shines most after a crisis (when tears and money are shed for the cause), at sporting events (when my heart swells with gratitude every time I hear the national anthem), and on Election Day (when I wear my “I voted” sticker with pride).
When discussing with friends, we also agreed that displaying the flag proudly and supporting local businesses in their pursuit of the American dream are other such acts of patriotism.
While these shows of patriotism are certainly important, they don’t usually happen every day (or at least for me). When on home soil surrounded by my fellow countrymen, with our pride silently but certainly binding us, I tend not to display my patriotic side unless given a reason to.
But when I’m abroad, it’s different. I’m aware of my patriotism daily, holiday or not. I am a walking, talking representative of America. Have you heard my accent? Seen my attire? Listened to my opinions? There is no doubt I am American.
Admittedly, this is a role I cherish. I love representing the US as I travel.
But it also means that the little things that I take for granted in the US become meaningful connections when away, things as simple as keeping up with American news, recognizing an American product in a grocery store, or seeing an American show on TV.
And as the 2 years I spent in New Zealand taught me, not only did these small connections take on greater meaning and feeling, but they also led me to seek bigger connections when opportunities were available.
For example, scouting out the one bar that aired the Super Bowl to a handful of Americans (at mid-day on Monday), searching for the lone restaurant that celebrated July 4th (right), or last, but certainly not least, hosting a gluttonous “Thanksgiving” dinner so I could share this tradition with my new Kiwi friends.
These connections to home take on greater meaning when abroad.
I see this similar pride in Jeff, too, as he goes about his days living as a Kiwi in America. From something as simple as selecting NZ kiwifruit and wine at the store, or reading the NZ news daily, to traveling to Florida to watch the Black Caps play cricket, bonding instantly with the few Kiwi ex-pats present (left), and proudly cheering them on against the heavily-favored West Indian team.
As you can see, we both love our homelands. But we’ve come to realize that our patriotism shines brightest when we’re abroad, when even the smallest of connections holds meaning and evokes a patriotic swell of pride.
I’d love to say that’s true on a daily basis at home, but the reality is that it’s easy to take these connections for granted sometimes.
No connection is taken for granted when you’re away from home.
What do you think?
For those of you who have lived or travel abroad, is your patriotism stronger at home or away?
And for those of you who have ever stopped yourself from traveling abroad over July 4th or anytime, really, I encourage you to do it. You might be surprised at the strength of the pride you feel at even the smallest of connections. It’s heartwarming.
And with that, I look forward to celebrating Independence Day in Montréal. I look forward to the small connections that will surely happen. And on Friday, July 5th, when we go to the international fireworks competition, I’ll beam as the rockets red glare with bombs bursting in air.
Happy July 4th to my American friends and followers! Enjoy your cookouts and fireworks!
And Happy Birthday, America!