Today is a day of great jubilation for most of us on this side of the pond. There are of course many reasons for celebrating including the wisdom of our past leaders and founding fathers.
We live in a vast, breathtaking wilderness of beauty and although the wilds are shrinking, there are still places where one can be as alone and one with nature as one wants to be.
The variety of landscape is amazing...
...and that is truly one of the great attributes of the continent that is comprised of United States of America, Canada and the United States of Mexico.
I value our education system...
...and our wildlife.
I think, however, it is also important for U.S. Americans to be aware of the outside view of us: the dismay at our swagger and perceived self-righteousness. Like the teenager of the family we are frequently boisterous, self-obsessed and forget that we are simply one of a larger kinship network.
It is wonderful to love our country. There is much to love, but I also think we should be respectful of other countries. We are not the only democracy in the world, nor the only place with a great quality of life. Our values are not necessarily the values of others and recognition that someone may be as happy or happier with his small homestead on the tundra without appliances or her herd of yak and a yurt should drive a sense of tolerance that is key to the greatness of our country.
I went to the park yesterday and got a chance to see what makes the United States a unique and wonderful place. (Okay, it is a different kind of park - but a very American one)
Here is a photographic essay on those sentiments of what makes this a fine country to live in.
There is someone at our house who does not celebrate the happiness of the Fourth of July.
Bart is terribly afraid of loud noises and digs desperately whenever he hears, thunder, gun fire or loud explosions. He is not a happy guy today, nor will he be until every last celebrant has fired off his or her last firework.