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Celebrating July 4th in 2018

For Independence Day, we highlight some of our favorite stories of what it means to be American.
Brenda Brisbon wears the 'Stars and Stripes' after the Confederate 'Stars and Bars' was lowered from the flagpole in front of the statehouse on July 10th, 2015, in Columbia, South Carolina.

This week, we commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776. Though many of us celebrate Independence Day with barbecues and fireworks, this holiday also provides a moment to grapple with our country's evolving identity and our relationship with it. (Heck, even fireworks are subject to debate.)

Here are some of our favorite Pacific Standard stories about surprising moments of patriotism and what it means to be American in today's United States.

How I Became a Citizen at 17 By Hiding My Socialism

Nandini Balial describes the ceremony, paperwork, and celebration that made her a citizen:

Citizenship, in my mind, was the ultimate membership. Green card holders cannot vote or serve on juries, the two examples of civic engagement that, in high school, I considered most thrilling and important.

How My Grandfathers Proved Their Loyalty to America

Willy Blackmore tells the stories of his two grandfathers and the bits of their identities they were forced to shed:

The notion that being American isn't about race fuels ideals as profoundly democratic as the American Dream, and as misguided and damaging as Manifest Destiny and American Exceptionalism.

Marvin Gaye and the Unlikely Patriotism of Resistance

Hanif Abdurraqib imagines America through the eyes of Marvin Gaye in 1970 and considers its similarities to the country we find ourselves in today:

There is no moment in America when I do not feel like I am fighting, when I don't feel like I'm pushing back against a machine that asks me to prove that I belong here. 

NASCAR fans in Martinsville, Virginia.

NASCAR fans in Martinsville, Virginia.

Lessons From the Fourth of July at a NASCAR Track

Win Bassett admits that it took him years to recognize the kind of patriotism that drew his father to the NASCAR track each July 4th:

For the past 16 years, the Martinsville Speedway has hosted a free-for-the-public staycation celebration for the Fourth of July that brings thousands of people together. For the past six of these years, my father has led the fundraising for the event—an act of patriotism that has taken his eldest son six years to see.

How to Be Canadian on the Fourth of July

Stephanie Hallett, a hockey- and beer-loving Canadian, explains how celebrating the Fourth of July helped her to feel like she belongs in her adopted country:

I love the Fourth of July because it's the one day of the year when no one asks me where I'm from or how I "got here," the one day that people will just smile and pass out American flags and tell me to have a nice weekend.