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I love America and the fact that I have lived all 20 years of my life in freedom. I love that I can make my own decisions and not worry about interference from an outstanding force. I love that on the 4th of July, people all over the country come together to light fireworks, eat barbecue and enjoy each other’s company in celebration of that freedom.

But this year will be different for me. Instead of watching the sky turn shades of sparkling red, white and blue, I’ll be in the UK.

Really, when I realized I wouldn’t be in the United States this Independence Day, I didn’t think too much of it. Like I said , I love America, but briefly living outside the land of the free was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I care for my country, and I’m proud of my heritage. However, I also respect other country’s cultures, and I don’t want to obnoxiously flaunt a holiday the UK obviously doesn’t celebrate. Still, I like to think of what I’ve done in the past to celebrate this momentous occasion.

Growing up in a small farm town in South Dakota, fireworks were a pretty big deal, especially since we didn’t really need to worry about where we would set them off. I’ve seen so many small-town firework shows, I can’t even count them all. .

It’s great to see families and friends gather, dressed in red, white and blue, filling the air with sparklers and the scent of grilled hot dogs and hamburgers. People are smiling and waving their American flags. The grass is green, and the sky is blue. And everyone is proud, but it’s the good kind of proud. They’re proud of their country, and they won’t let anyone or anything stand in the way of their happiness.

It sounds almost like a dream: everyone being happy. But that’s the way it should be.

Celebrating Independence Day in the UK has given me a new perspective. I’ve realized that living in America truly is a tremendous opportunity, and I’m so glad I was raised there. It’s a different feeling living in London — not as different as living in Tokyo, for example — but it is a different culture. In this case, I will live in the UK like I do every other day. I may look to see if I can find some Americans floating around, but I won’t let it consume me. It’s my turn to be the one outside looking in. It’s my turn to recognize America from afar.

This year, I won’t see stripes of red and illuminating white stars in a sea of blue. I won’t watch hundreds of mortar shells flying into the air to create awe-inspiring fireworks displays. But that’s okay, because I know that just to the west, there will be triumphant festivities and extensive cheerfulness. And that makes me proud.

c.peterson@chronicle.utah.edu

@TheChrony

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