I am an immigrant to this country. A "naturalized" citizen. When we first moved from Germany to Kentucky in the 70's, the Klu Klux Klan marched in the 4th of July parade. Confederate flags flew next to American flags. There were gun racks in pick up trucks, people drove with open cans of beer on the highway and Nixon was president. Cars were as long as small houses. The roads were wide and lined with fast food joints and discount stores. Everything was big and tacky and new.
America was like a horny 19 year old boy - bold and brash, wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans, quick with a wink and eager for a fight. A stark contrast to the liberal and finessed Europe I had left, with its small cars, energy awareness and socialist politics. A Europe weathered by years of strife and conflict and patinated by art and culture.
I wasn't afraid. I had the privilege of being white and middle class. I waved my little flag while the Klan marched by. Sitting on the shag carpeting in front of our only television, I watched flashes of death and mayhem in Vietnam after Gilligan's Island. My mom made Chinese food from a boxed kit. We caught fireflies in jars and burned marshmallows over a fire.
Simple acts during complex times.
Happy Independence Day, America.