July 4, 1776. The day America adopted the Declaration of Independence, gaining ultimate freedom from Great Britain. The significance of the fourth of July is often dismembered – it’s thought of as a holiday to watch fireworks, play baseball, eat hot dogs and drink Budweiser. The ultimate American celebration.
When I think of the Fourth of July, I don’t think of the stereotypes. I think of July 4, 2012, specifically and vividly. I was on a mission trip in Ghana, West Africa on that day. I was surrounded by 32 Americans in the most mysterious place I’ve ever been, but on that Fourth of July I felt more at home than ever before.
The village we were staying in scrounged up cash to buy fireworks for us to celebrate. These people did not even know America; what it looked like, what it felt like. Yet, sitting on top of an unfinished house in the mountains, I remember looking towards the ocean and seeing bright colors fly through the air. And people were dancing. Africans were singing for a place they couldn’t even call their own.
That’s when I realized how truly lucky I am to be an American. If I could, I would celebrate with sparklers every day to show how truly amazing America is. The soil here is magical, filled with opportunities of every kind. America gives hope; America gives freedom. I’m proud to call America my home.
By Chelsea Buranich
Photograph by Jason Tompa