Fireworks were invented in China. The hot dog and hamburger can trace their origins to Frankfurt and Hamburg, Germany, respectively. The conversion of mustard seeds into a yellow food paste was probably first conceived by the Romans. The word ketchup is derived from the Chinese name of a fermented fish sauce. The earliest barley beer was found in western Iran. Even the great American apple pie was prepared by the good people of the Netherlands long before this country was even an idea.
The point is this: non-living ingredients of that thing we like to call Independence Day come from all over the world and the cultural mashup that is responsible for making the Fourth of July great is the same phenomenon that makes America great in general.
Now that the ice has melted, the charcoal is cold and the scorched paper remnants of fireworks have either found their way into the trash or a corner of our world where we won’t really notice them it’s important that we take the time to consider what makes America great. And yes, no matter what anyone says: America is great, was great and will always be great.
And one of the top reasons America is great is because it’s a land where anyone can succeed. It doesn’t matter what color you are, who your parents were, or what country your ancestors came from. You’re welcome in the grand old USA and there’s a slice of the American dream with your name on it, à la mode.
There are too many days where we take it for granted. There are countless people around the globe who would do just about anything to have a chance to succeed in America. Some people work their whole lives just to gain the rights that we gained just by being born on American soil. They risk their lives, jobs, familes, health and freedom just to get a taste of opportunity. It’s a shame that some choose to enter America illegally since there are so many waiting in the fully legitimate and willing to do what it takes line.
But there are those in this country who need apperantly need to be reminded that America is great because of what people from other cultures have added to it, not in spite of it. There are people who apperantly need to be reminded that nobody is untrustworthy, undeserving or even evil because of their color, background, gender identity or sexuality. When it’s time for America to have its birthday then we should all just be Americans. People all over the country purposely complete their citizenship process during 4th of July celebrations because they’ve chosen to fully embrace the land of opportunity. What better way to celebrate America then with a grateful batch of new Americans?
The citizenship test is justifiably rigerous and there are probably too many natural born Americans that probably couldn’t manage to pass it.
American English is full of loan words from other languages – if it sounded good then we just imported it wholesale.
On the 4Fourth of July, I had some good old Italian pizza – the sauce was red, the cheese was white and it’s a shame that the toppings or the bread weren’t blue but what we think of as pizza wouldn’t exist as it does today if it weren’t for the coordination of Italian tradition with American ingenuity and ingriedients.
Just about all of the culinary traditions of the world have made their way to America and in just one day in most American cities you can go on a culinary world tour without going very far at all. And it gets even more patriotic when those rich culinary traditions start to mix and match on the collective pallets of the good people of the USA. America is conducive to fusion cuisine and fusion culture. We’re all better together.
Travis McMullen is a longtime Sedalia resident who shares his views on the city through his weekly Democrat column.