The Pursuit of Happiness

The liberties of our country, the freedoms of our civil Constitution are worth defending at all hazards; it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors. They purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood. It will bring a mark of everlasting infamy on the present generation – enlightened as it is – if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of designing men.
~ Samuel Adams

The air was thick that summer night, heavy with heat and humidity. Along with the odor of hops and happiness. It was July 3rd. A Wednesday. And my working stiff pals and I were blowing off some steam carousing and cavorting as the next day -- July 4th -- was a holiday. From watering hole to watering hole we went (yes, one of us was the designated driver) looking for action and merriment and maybe a brief yet meaningless relationship. (Shut up. I wasn't yet 30. It's just what we did back in the '90s.)

As we were heading for our car, departing one joint and heading to another, I looked at my watch. 12 midnight. Officially the Fourth of July. And in a moment inspired by cheap beer and sauciness, I stopped, gathered my friends 'round and began to sing "God Bless America" at the top of my lungs. My pals, inspired by my insanity, joined in. We made quite a tableau, standing there, voices raised, attempting to find the melody (never mind the same key) and singing as if our lived depended upon it.

The drunken chorus:

*Me. My galpal. Two WASP goddesses.

*A gent born in the UK.

*A fellow born in Laos who came to the US in the mid-70s as a refugee.

Both now naturalized Americans.

Singing about love of God and country and the oceans white with foam.

We defined America in that moment. Melting pot. Emotion. Bravery (please -- it took some cojones to stop and sing in the neighborhood we were in). Passion.

No fireworks necessary. No hot dogs, apple pie or the like.

That was, and may always will be, my perfect Independence Day moment.

God bless America, y'all.

No one is free when others are oppressed.
~ Author Unknown

We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.
~William Faulkner


AsKatKnits said...

Let Freedom Ring is right, my friend! Well said!

Tense Teacher said...

I think it's a perfect tribute to a lot of what we stand for in this country.

Web-Betty said...

In many places you would not be free to sing, drunk and off-key, in the middle of the streets.

"There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America." -Bill Clinton


Wildhair said...

..My home sweet home.
God Bless America.

cajunvegan said...

Nobody does it better than Kate Smith. Thanks for sharing a beautiful memory.