Happy Birthday, America!

""Nineteen years ago, as a citizen of India, I celebrated ‘ Indian Independence Day ‘ on August 15th, 1989 for the last time before I immigrated to United States. I moved to States on March 17th, 1990- a day before my birthday. Coming to America was the best birthday gift I ever had. America, so beautiful, bountiful and plentiful- it simply made my dreams come true.

Eighteen years later, I am celebrating ‘ American Independence Day ‘ on July 4th, as an U.S. citizen. Although I am an American citizen, I still respect, honor and love my motherland, India, and especially my hometown, Mangalore. Coming to America on March 17th, 1990 became my dreams come true, and later becoming an American citizen on May 6th, 1996 was the greatest moment in my life which I cherish until now.

I came, I saw, I conquered a few hearts, made quite a few new friends and experienced many new things. For making this possible, I owe my heartfelt thanks to my brother Joe, and his wife, Florine for sponsoring my visa to States. Because of them what I am now, and the kind of enjoyable life that I am leading in this greatest nation in the World. Presently my brother and his family have settled in Kadri, Mangalore, after enjoying 32 years of American life in Ottawa, Illinois, U.S.A.

As an American citizen, I feel proud to celebrate ‘ 4th of July ‘ with respect and dignity. And as I celebrate it more than a national holiday, I honor and respect a place and an idea. In 1776 when America claimed independence from Britain and Democracy was born, there was no gaurantees that this nation, its founders or that great idea of democracy would last or endure. It did, and today the United States of America is a beacon to the entire world.

The ideas of America are so great that millions seek to live here and become Americans. Every day thousands leave their homeland to come to the "land of the free and the home of the brave" so they can begin their American dream. The United States is truly a diverse nation made up of dynamic people. Each year on July 4th, Americans celebrate that freedom and independence with barbecues, picnics, parades, carnivals, baseball games, marching bands, fireworks and lots of family fun and frolic. I can’t imagine 4th of July celebrations without fireworks-and America has the best fireworks display in the world.

American Independence Day, commonly known as ‘ the Fourth of July ‘ is a national holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring freedom from the hands of Great Britain. On independence day, the American flag flies proudly across the nation, from homes to car antennas and unexpected places. Proper respect is shown to this flag since it represents the liberties that all Americans have. 4th of July is time for the Red, White and Blue- the colors of the American flag. While patriotic parades take place during day time, the fireworks displays take place after sunset.

Independence Day fireworks are often accompanied by patriotic songs such as the national anthem " The Star-Spangled Banner ", " God Bless America ", " America the Beautiful ", " My Country, ‘ Tis of Thee ", " This Land Is Your Land ", " Stars and Stripes Forever " and many more. Major fireworks displays are held in big cities like New York on the East River, in Chicago on Lake Michigan, Boston on the Charles River, and on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Ontario, Canada hosts one of the world’s largest fireworks displays, over the Detroit River, to celebrate both American Independence Day and Canada Day.

So ‘ American Independence Day ‘ is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, backyard or open air barbecues, carnivals, picnics, concerts, baseball games, and various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States, but is also viewed as simply a summer festival, apart from its patriotic overtones. Happy 4th of July!.

This year while I am celebrating this holiday, I am grateful to God for giving me a chance to live in this great land full of abundance and opportunities where I have the freedom to be me and not bound by the cultural or religious limitations like other countries, where I can enjoy freedom unequaled in the history of civilization, where I can freely express myself, free of oppression and free of fear.

I am also thankful to live in this country that tolerates dissent, and while I deeply resent the unchecked and increasing number of illegals streaming across our porous borders and ports of entry, I am still thankful to live here- so sought after those who don’t live in such a country. Thankyou, America!.

While celebrating America’s independence, I am thankful I live in a country where people are resilient, hopeful and steadfast in their determination to fight the evils that threaten our freedom. America is by far the best place on Earth to live and die, and we, as American citizens or as legal immigrants should appreciate and defend it with all our resolve.

As John F. Kennedy said, " Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country". While America has given us the best freedom, let us all repay back by respecting the national anthem and our flag, by following the laws and by living as good citizens. Let’s fight against those who are questioning the legitimacy of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, singing the national anthem or even flying the American flag. Let’s stand by our nation, regardless of world insults made against it.

Yes, America is not perfect, it is not without its problems, but no nation, no people, can hold their heads up any higher than we, the American people, do. So, let’s show our patriotism and loyalty to America, thereby making it a strong nation in the world.

Finally, " I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all ". Long live, and May God bless America- the land of the immigrants; the land of the free and the brave; the land of vast opportunities, and the land of free speech.

Hap…Hap…Happy birthday, America , and many happy returns of the day!

About The Author

""Alfie D’Souza is a well know name in Ottawa, Illinois – a suburban community in the outskirts of Chicago.  He is the member of WriteTeam for "The Times".  The Daily Times of Ottawa and The Times-Press of Streator have merged into a new newspaper called "The Times." Alfie is a regular columnist for this newspaper who covers various stories of Indian and Western origin on various events.  He is also a regular contributor for the magazine "Mangalore Today" which is published from Mangalore.

Author: Alfie DSouza- Illinois