Independence Day

Utah Sunset by Tim Hamilton

I love America. That’s a phrase that’s used so much, it’s hard to hear it fresh, or say with feeling. I first came here when I was 18, for a three-month vacation in Juneau, Alaska. The landscape seeped into my soul, and once I returned home it became a constant day-dream. I knew I had to go back. 7 years later, I moved over here, but was resigned to living in a concrete jungle since my job was in LA. Then I discovered the vast wildernesses that surround the city, and realized how much beauty there was almost anywhere in America.

I miss my family and friends back in the UK, but on a deep level I know this is where I belong. I feel at peace when I’m out in the mountains. I’m at home surrounded by Americans all determined to Do Something About It, whatever It is for them. It’s hard to talk about loving something abstract, but when I look out of a plane at the land below, I feel connected to it and everyone down there. I’ve so many reasons to be grateful for the chances America has given me, but it’s that raw feeling that keeps me here.

One of my favorite recent articles is The War over Patriotism, on the political struggles to claim patriotism for one side or another. The key insight was that the root of patriotism has to be an emotional bond to the place and people, not just an intellectual belief in our ideals. We’re always going to fall short of perfection, but that attachment keeps us trying again until we get it right.

Happy 4th of July to everyone! Now it’s time to get changed into my red coat and start trotting up and down clutching my musket while the neighbors take pot-shots at me…

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