Fourth Of July In Lakewood, Ohio

On the July 4, 2017, a dream came true. I experienced what a national holiday could be like. In Germany, my country, October 3 is not a day filled with celebration and events. It's not a day where everyone hangs up a large German flag. And it's not a day that makes us Germans feel like a proud community. To be honest, all of these things would see very strange to me, although that doesn’t mean that I would like to try some of them. However, I can't imagine having a day like this in my home country.

The reason why this type of patriotic celebration is unheard of in Germany is our history, our past. After all these years, the horrifying things that happened in the last century still have a deep impact on our lives. Germans are not 'allowed' to love their country. We are often judged for being happy in a country that made such horrible mistakes in the past.

But I wonder if that is really necessary. Would it be so wrong to celebrate our nation? Is it shameful to be proud of our country? There is no easy answer to these questions, but after thinking about this for a long time, I would say that the answers are no. It’s never too late for a new beginning. We must absolutely accept our past and deal with it because it’s part of our culture, our heritage. But I think it’s time to for a positive change with regard to our national pride.

Now you may think that I'm very nationalistic. You may think I'm convinced that Germany is the best country in the world. But that is incorrect. My only wish is to one day be able to be proud of my country without the fear of being judged. Being here in the United States during the Fourth of July celebration has made me think about national pride over and over again. July 4 in America is vastly different from October 3 in Germany. I’d like to share a bit about how I experienced America’s national holiday.

The day started at 8:00 a.m. I searched for the right clothing for this special day. Dressed in white shorts and a blue top, I walked downstairs, where my host mum was preparing breakfast in the kitchen. Together with my host dad, brother and sister we decorated the tables in our yard and set out our meal. A few minutes later, good friends arrived, chatting and laughing as they approached. The sun was shining, and the cool breeze ushered in the promise of a good day.

Once all the guests arrived, we began our feast. Initially, I was a bit overwhelmed by the spread of delicious food, but I chose a bagel with cream cheese combined with yogurt, watermelon and blueberries. After our meal, we walked to the end of the street, sat down in chairs on the sidewalk and watched the traditional Fourth of July parade. The following hour was full of children looking for candy on the black asphalt, cars and people decorated with the colors of the American flag and most importantly, a feeling of joy and celebration.  

A few parts of the parade genuinely surprised me, including the politicians advertising their campaigns and the bagpipers, whom I had always associated with Scotland. On the other hand, the marching bands, cheerleaders and sports teams seemed more typically American to me. The warm-hearted applause for the military organizations and veterans also seemed very patriotic. All day, people asked me what I thought of their national celebration. All I could say in response was, “It was interesting.” I lacked adequate words to describe the impressions and feelings I had.

After the parade and a short rest, we prepared for a late lunch at the beach. With our swimsuits and towels, we headed to the beach, where we spent our time swimming in the warm waters of Lake Erie, eating chips and homemade guacamole (which is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten), and playing Jenga in the warm sand.

It was fascinating, observing all the people celebrating not only their country but life itself and the happiness of being together and having fun. Later that evening, it dawned on me how much I was enjoying every moment. Some of us sat on the grass, others in chairs, with a grey fence as a barrier in front of the cliffs. Boats passed by on Lake Erie, moving with the pulse of the waves, their small lights a contrast on the dark, blue water.

Far away the colors of fireworks brightened the sky, sparkling like jewelry on a woman's wrist. Then there was a loud noise when the first fireworks in Lakewood Park started filling the air with shining intensity. All the conversations in the background sounded like a sweet melody, rising and falling whenever it became quiet or loud. A man behind me said “God bless America,” and I turned around instinctively to see if someone would shame him for saying this out loud, but nothing happened.

When the fireworks were finally over, I caught myself smiling in the infinite blackness of the night. Certainty spread in my heart, while my mind was dancing around one small thought: maybe one day I'll be entirely free to be proud of where I come from. Maybe one day my children will be surprised when I tell them about a time when it was not socially acceptable to express how wonderful Germany is. Maybe one day I'll stand outside on a street, watching fireworks lightening the sky above me. But I know for sure that I'll remember how I spent the Fourth of July in the United States many years ago, surrounded by strangers and friends who came together for one reason: to celebrate their country and the joy of being together.

Hi,

I am Lina, a 17-year-old girl from Germany and since I graduated this summer from highschool I am taking a gap year right now. Since two months I am staying with a family here in Lakewood, whom I got to know in a two weeks exchange program with my school in Braunschweig/Brunswick. I am a passionated writer and deeply in love with your language, that's why I would like to share my view of your daily life with everyone who is interested. Also I'm trying to enhance my English skills whenever I can, to achieve my goal of speaking it fluently one day. I hope you'll enjoy my articles!

Lina

Lina Probst

Hi,

I am Lina, a 17-year-old girl from Germany and since I graduated this summer from highschool I am taking a gap year right now. Since two months I am staying with a family here in Lakewood, whom I got to know in a two weeks exchange program with my school in Braunschweig/Brunswick. I am a passionated writer and deeply in love with your language, that's why I would like to share my view of your daily life with everyone who is interested. Also I'm trying to enhance my English skills whenever I can, to achieve my goal of speaking it fluently one day. I hope you'll enjoy my articles!

Lina

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Volume 13, Issue 19, Posted 9:25 PM, 09.19.2017