This week, member Kathy Feest shares her thoughts on the importance of national and cultural events, exploring what it means to be celebrating the 4th of July in the UK, from the perspective of someone who used to live in America but has now settled in England…
Celebrating the 4th of July in the UK
It’s the fourth of July this month! And you know what that means? Hamburgers, hotdogs, picnics and toasted marshmallows! Oh wait – maybe not… That’s what it used to mean when I lived in the States over forty years ago. Now, it’s just another day. Without festivities. As my first husband told me when I woke, and was excited about the celebrations that we would have on my first fourth of July in this country, “Lie back down woman, you’ve been captured by the enemy” (just for the record it was the most memorable line of our short marriage).
We did not rejoice and there was no barbecue but I didn’t ever feel like I’d joined the enemy! Although I suppose in 1776 terms I certainly had. The 4th of July after all, is the day that celebrates American Independence from Britain.
Members of the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, declaring that the people of the original thirteen colonies were no longer under the reign of the then King, George the Third. The Congressmen (no women of course!) voted on their stance on the 2nd of July, and signed the all important documents on the 4th.
Before Queen Victoria, King George was the longest serving monarch, spending fifty nine years on the throne. The revolutionary war that led to Independence was fought, and lost, under his rule. Taxation without representation was one of the many gripes of the Founding Fathers of America. After many bloody battles with the “red coats” (the British soldiers’ garb of the day), the thirteen colonies were finally set free and Independence Day has been celebrated in America on this day ever since.
As an American and British Passport holder, with an English husband and a son who speaks with a delightful British accent, I have indeed been “captured” by the “enemy”.
My life and my customs are now firmly embedded in those of the UK. When England is playing football, I’m cheering them all the way… (the win over Denmark by the English in the Euros was a cause to celebrate!).
Chances are if the weather is fine, we’ll be out and about walking through the delightful English countryside, but there will be no BBQ, or fireworks, or parades.
I fell in love with this country that is now my home. Independence is one thing, choice quite another.
One does wonder how different the States would be if Independence hadn’t been achieved. Hmmm. On that note, I may lay back down and contemplate that scenario as I think about our most recent 4th of July.
But to all my American Cousins my wish remains that you have a Happy Independence Day! Marshmallow anyone? Or perhaps, if you stop by my place, I might just offer you a scone and cream tea instead!
Kathy writes her own blog, Feest Isolation Days – Reflections from self-isolation in Bristol, which she has updated every day since the start of the first lockdown in 2020.