The Fourth of July: Immersing Myself in American Traditions
As part of my Fulbright experience, I had the chance to experience the American tradition of celebrating the Fourth of July. During this day, Americans from all backgrounds gather to celebrate America’s independence, showcase their pride for their home, and display their love for their communities.
Being a Fulbrighter in Washington D.C., the nation’s capital, provided me with a unique Fourth of July experience. I am constantly surrounded by historical moments embodied in memorials, historic buildings, and museums. I find the presence of these patriotic symbols and monuments fascinating, as well as how they shape the identity of many Americans.
I joined my friends and hundreds of other Washingtonians on a picnic at the heart of the National Mall to celebrate America’s special day, which resulted in a spectacular fireworks show. We chose a spot below the Lincoln Memorial facing the Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument. Families and friends flocked in groups dressed in the colors of the American flag, and spent time together to watch the fireworks.
While the fireworks added an exciting touch to the celebrations, the fireworks’ magic also created a sense of unity and bonding among all Americans in that moment, regardless of their origins and ideological differences.
It was nice to see how Americans put their differences aside to celebrate the day together, wear the same colors, organize barbecues, and watch live music performances all over the United States.
The day’s celebrations made me reflect on how different Morocco is in that regard. Although Moroccans have a strong sense of patriotic identity and pride in who they are, they don’t tend to manifest these feelings by wearing the flag or collectively participating in national festivities. Looking back, I do not remember waving a Moroccan flag during a national event the way I witnessed Americans do on the fourth of July.
Having said that, there’s no right or wrong way to how people should show their feelings toward their country or how they relate to their community. What matters is that they reiterate the values of unity, solidarity, and hope for a better future when they celebrate their history and traditions.
Hajar is a 2021 Fulbrighter from Morocco. She is studying International Development at American University.