If I didn’t know all the words to “The Star Spangled Banner’ , anthem of the United States yesterday, before the 4th of July ceremonies began , I certainly do today. Somewhere between the raucous chorus of ‘the rockets bursting in air’ and ‘o’er the land of the free and home of the brave’, the uproar of national pride became a contagion. On top of everything else I like about America, they certainly know how to throw a party.
The history of the celebration has been somewhat skewed in the USA. The defense of Ft. McHenry by the Americans against a British bombardment was in fact the response by the British forces for an aggressive American incursion into Canada. The actual battle in it’s entirety did not go well for the American’s, in fact they barely survived. “Does that Star Spangled Banner still wave?” There were times during the war when that was not assured.
The War of 1812 was decidedly a Canadian victory, with the Canadian loyalists successfully defending their borders against an invading American force and in turn capturing the flag ships of the American fleet as well as sacking Ft. Detroit. A plucky Canadian general ( Ross) also ventured south and burned down the White House, an act for which he was chastised for as ‘over doing it’…..a true Canadian act of contrite self-admonishment. However we Canadians suspect that the Americans have never really forgiven us for the act.
In 1815, an American expeditionary force again attempted to invade Canada across the Saskatchewan border but was defeated by a First Nations army and the mixed Metis peoples of the prairie loyal to the British who had allowed them to live in peace rather than the genocide offered by the US Cavalry in the US central plains . That was the last of the war between Canada and the United States, an inauspicious start to a lasting relationship.
However, there is no smack of defeatism in ‘the land of the free’, and why should there be? There has never been an experiment the likes of the United States ever in the history of mankind. Like it or not, people flock to this country to garner a slice of the American dream, however fleeting. Yesterday I was spoken to by a Mexican girl from Chihuahua, her status undetermined, who told me she was here because the government ‘”cared about it’s people” as opposed to the Government of Mexico who she assured me did not.
This is a lasting impression for me. The celebrations of a people who had lost a war but retained their freedom. So what if the publicity surrounding the facts is slightly inaccurate? To my Mexican friend this country means living with some dignity, is that such a bad thing? We who live in the 1st world of developed countries and tangled democracies should never overlook or take for granted what we have as compared to so many in this world who have not. For my freedom I gladly support the Americans in their quest to keep that dream of freedom and democracy alive. Happy 4th of July and Happy Independence Day America!