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Jewish World Review June 29, 2000 / 26 Iyar, 5760

Greg Crosby

Greg Crosby
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Consumer Reports

My Home Sweet Home -- AMERICA has a four-day weekend this week since the Fourth of July falls on a Tuesday.

That means another excuse for millions of people to crowd the airports and highways in an effort to ďget away.Ē Just what everyone needs to get away from, Iím not sure. The Fourth used to be a time for family, friends and neighbors to get together, not get away. People would plan outdoor events at or near home. Backyard barbecues, picnics, parades, and band concerts in the park were how most people traditionally celebrated. It was a time for hot dogs and hamburgers, and watermelon and lemonade, and Sousa marches and American flags and fireworks after dark. You know what? It still is!

The Fourth of July is a time to feel unabashedly 100% American and to be proud of it. A time to wave your flag, crank up the patriotic music, watch Jimmy Cagney in ďYankee Doodle DandyĒ and be thankful that you are living in the greatest country on earth.

America the beautiful. The first nation on Earth to establish in a written document the freedom for its people to worship as they wish. To acknowledge that all humans are entitled to the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The first nation on Earth to stand up and say to the rest of the world that the enslavement of oneís fellow man is unconscionable and should forever be abolished.

The United States of America. What that phrase must have meant to my grandparents living in Russia in 1920! What that phrase must have meant to so many people from so many places -- and what it still means to so many today! As someone once said, ďIsnít it interesting that you never see boatloads of people escaping FROM America, they are always escaping TO America.Ē Just try to find another place on earth that offers its citizens more freedom and more opportunity for a better life than does America. Wait. Donít bother, because Iíll tell you right now, there isnít any. This is it, pal. This is as good as it gets.

We may not always agree with the current crop of politicians inhabiting our government offices these days, but we can take heart in the fact that politicians are a lot like thunderstorms -- sooner or later theyíll blow over. We just hope that the collateral damage left in their wake isnít too bad.

But no matter how bad we may think things are, believe me things could be worse, and they ARE worse in other places. And if there are things that need fixing in this country, well, with G-dís help we can fix them. We really can. We can do anything. Because weíre Americans.

I think Irving Berlin had it about right when he wrote:

G-d bless America, land that I love.
Stand beside her and guide her
through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies
to the oceans white with foam.
G-d bless America, my home sweet home.

I know itís tempting to get away for the four-day weekend, but why donít you stay home this time? Hang out the flag, dust off your patriotic music and have some friends over for an old fashioned Fourth of July barbecue. Then, after dark, watch the fireworks light up the sky and feel that lump in your throat. You can do it. You really can. Because youíre an American.

JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. You may contact him by clicking here.


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03/15/00: Academia and Media --- Theyíre Just Not Right
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08/12/99: Dressing Down...and Out

© 2000, Greg Crosby