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Sometimes specific holidays can take on special and personal meanings for people -- Memorial Day for the family of a fallen soldier, Labor Day for a refugee that used to work 14-hour days in a sweatshop. For me, the 4th of July has a special meaning -- not because I'm a born-and-bred American, but rather because that is precisely what I am not. The U.S. is my country because I chose it.
Nine years ago last month, I was sworn in as a naturalized U.S. citizen in Boston's Faneuil Hall, a historic building where patriots like Sam Adams gave inspirational speeches in the 1760s and 1770s. I am fortunate to live in a state teeming with American history -- from the landing of the Mayflower to the world's oldest continuously functioning constitution to Alexander Graham Bell's invention of the telephone.
I think that often we take for granted what we have. Too many Americans can't answer the basic history and civics questions on the citizenship test. Being a proud American is not about being born here, or wearing a flag pin on your lapel, or belonging to a specific political party. Every day I learn more about the people, places and events that shaped the nation, and everyday it makes me a little more American.
So this 235th anniversary, as you sit by the pool, eat hotdogs and hamburgers fresh off the grill, or watch the local fireworks display, I hope you will take a moment to learn something new about our nation's history -- and become a little more American too.
Susana Fernandes is the Contracts Manager at AMERICAN EXPERIENCE.
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