It was July 2002. In the breakfast room, in addition to us, were a couple of Scots, a Brit or two and a pair of Japanese tourists.
A college girl from San Diego came down for the morning meal. On her way to the table, she came by, bent down and whispered to us, “Happy Independence Day.”
It was code.
July Fourth does not make me maudlin. I do not tear up seeing the American flag. The day can, however, make us reflect on the benefits of our nationality.
Independence Day is not hot dogs, picnics and fireworks. Those are fine, but far from home I realized that I am an American, and proud of it.
I have been created by the nation in which I live and owe a great deal to it.
Not everyone on Earth knows the freedoms with which I have been raised. I did not win those freedoms, but inherited them.
We are free to criticize as well as support our government. We can make choices, comments and commitments like no other citizens in this world. We can argue about anything. In the end, we are Americans.
We get together every April 15 to bankroll this project called democracy. Chipping in, we school our children, protect our elderly and fund all sorts of services.
Separately, we refuse to give our government so much that they can dictate what doctor we shall see or what television shows we will watch.
We hold some truths to be self-evident: a free church, free press and freedom of speech are a great check against tyranny. They are also not a guarantee that we will always be right or stay away from huge mistakes.
We have the freedom to be wrong in order to allow for the possibilities of being right.
Being in Crail was not like being with the enemy. We are friends now after that brawl called the Revolution. We almost speak the same language.
Still, while I respect others and do not think they are wrong, I’m an American. It does not make me better, just different.
The phrase “Happy Independence Day” means just that.
• Mike McLellan can be contacted by calling and leaving a message at 830-4201 or e-mailing him at DrMikeM@sbcglobal.net.