I don’t drive around in a pickup truck with an American flag waving from the flatbed. But I am patriotic. It’s just not top-of-mind … typically.
In 2022, because of quirks in family schedules, I found myself in Canada on July 4th. We were there for about a week, with American Independence Day smack in the middle of that time. I didn’t think too much about it until the Fourth arrived. It was a Monday, and our hosts in Canada were having work done to their house.
While we were having breakfast, workmen came and went past the table. One practically passed me the butter for my English muffin.
As an American, I’m used to all kinds of noisemaking on the July 4th holiday, but it’s usually not hammering and sawing. This isn’t right, I thought. And it wasn’t very relaxing, either.
But more than that, something deep in my being rebelled that the celebration of this historic day wasn’t happening around me. I realized that wasn’t rational, because I was out of the country, but it brought home the significance of a line spoken by Robert Redford in an old movie called Three Days of the Condor.
Redford’s character, Joe Turner, had just made an unlikely alliance with a foreign asset of the CIA. This assassin – Joubert, played by Max Von Sydow — had previously tried to kill Turner until he got a higher priority assignment from The Company.
Joubert tries to convince Turner that he didn’t have much future in the US. He even describes how his assassination would go down at the hands of people that Joe trusted, and suggests that he flee to Europe.
That’s when Redford says:
I was born in the United States, Joubert. I miss it when I’m away too long.
When you’re born in a place, and live there for a long time, it becomes part of you — whether you realize it or not.
Deep down, I’m American. And from time to time, I get a reminder that, like Joe Turner, I would miss it.
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