Commentary by Paul Hughes
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs
As a British Local National from England, I have been working for the Americans for seven years. With each Independence Day I am marinated in the infectious fun, patriotism and pride that is on full display.
While I was learning about the 4th of July over the years, I have also had opportunities to teach Americans a thing or two about it.
“What do you normally do on the 4th of July in England?” I have been asked on more than one occasion. “Well, nothing, just go to work, it’s just another day,” I normally respond.
“Really???” comes the reply, usually with quizzical twang.
I have always been a little tickled by the surprise I receive when I admit that Brit’s care little for the date. Should we be celebrating the loss of the United States from our empire? That is a strange excuse for a party.
“So the Brits don’t care about Independence Day?”
Well, we can quote the movie pretty much word for word. It was this Will Smith film that really popularized the term for us. Before that, your average Brit wouldn’t immediately relate that term to an American celebration, as it is not something we are taught in schools. To back up this notion, I polled a group of Brits for the article. Nearly all guessed the month, but not the date of Independence Day.
Now that I have a few Independence Day celebrations under my belt, I feel my country is missing out. We do not have a national day of celebration. If we wanted to, I suppose we could celebrate every time a country gained independence from us? This would make a total of 62 celebrations a year. Britain genuinely holds the official Guinness World Record for colonies lost.
The USA got in early, deciding in 1776 that being under British rule was not for them. We refused to admit that until 1783, and it wasn’t until nearly two centuries later that the hemorrhaging of colonies really began. In 1939 Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand left, leaving only 14 British Overseas Territories as of today.
As my country seems further and further away after making Germany my home, I treasure the ability to celebrate cultural milestones, including Germany’s reunification and America’s independence, both of which Britain had at least a little something to do with.
So, I’ll say with mirth, Happy Treason day you ungrateful colonials! But I really mean it when I say, enjoy a wonderful celebration America, you deserve it!