Happy Birthday, America.
I've been in the UK for the last five years so for me, the 4th is, uhm, low key. This morning I dialled up Hawkshaw Hawkin's Soldiers Joy (I highly recommend this tune on the 4th) on YouTube but really, listening to the 50+yo song just made me sad.
It's a toe-tapper but listening to the words for once didn't bring up a grin and a swell of pride at the mental image of a gang of rag-tag Colonial lads standing up through a brutal Valley Forge winter against the might of the red-coated British Army. The world is in such a mess, America and Britain especially so - it's hard to be proud of either just now, and harder still to not become incoherent with anger at the hows and whys of what has happened.
I left the US five years ago because after long and careful consideration Paul and I knew the best place for us would be the UK - his cancer had already come back twice and so access to the NHS is very important; he owns the house outright, his pension goes farther here and if we'd moved to the US he would have been liable to onerous taxation (yeah, go figure and yes, we do see the irony), and finally the reasons swung back to his health as we realised he would never be able to survive the terrible heat and humidity in the US. There were, of course, other reasons but none as important as the aforementioned.
I love the UK. Scotland is going through some depressingly worrisome political upheavals (OMFG! Roll on May 2016 when hopefully the SNP will be sacked by the people and things can get back to normal around here!), but for the most part, I love living here and I don't give much if any thought of returning to live in the USA. That makes me VERY sad.
But really, I don't miss America. I miss my now-adult children and of course their children, but the other things about America that I would miss are things I already missed long before leaving in 2010.
My America died in the mid-and-late 90s. It's not coming back. I can rail and curse and lament and bemoan but it's not going to bring back what was great about America. Only the people can do that and the 'status-quoers' are making sure The People are so damn disenfranchised as to make it impossible to bring back a country where Americans really did strive to make the country a great place for EVERYONE to live. The powers that be embraced the insanity of throwing the baby out whilst making the bathwater into a nightcap, and until the people wake up and stand up together, the USA has so lost its glory it's pointless to try discussing it.
To be clear, the UK is as disappointing as the US at this point. Both countries are teetering on the edge of the Abyss and right now it wouldn't take much at all to topple either or both over the side.
I am American. I am British. There is no dichotomy. Only sadness at how low our so-called leaders have dragged us.