BOSTON (CBS) – I’m starting my 4th of July holiday Wednesday, and perhaps this agenda sounds something like yours – fried clams, hanging with family and friends, steamer clams, napping on the beach, clam rolls, mini-golf, clam cakes, napping on the porch, and did I mention clams yet?
But along with all those clams – and, truth be told, a moderate, responsible intake of a chilled adult beverage to go along with them – I’m also planning to spend some time reflecting on what being an American means to me.
For starters, it means feeling incredibly lucky.
I spent two weeks in Turkey earlier this year, an absolutely beautiful country with amazing history and resources. But as I mentioned here after I returned, it’s a place like many others in the world that hasn’t realized its full potential because of bad old habits that hold it back, among them, the chronic suppression of free speech and oppression of some its own people.
We have our share of problems here, but nothing of that magnitude. You can occupy a public park in downtown Boston for weeks as part of an anti-government protest without being harassed and arrested; ask the folks in Istanbul if they enjoy the same freedom. And there is no place on earth where speech is freer than it is here.
Being an American also means being part of something bigger than your ethnic group or social class.
For all the talk about the one percent, mansionization, and ghettoization, there is more social mixing here than in most other countries, and more devotion to the concept of the melting pot.
All in all, I’m mighty glad I’m an American, and wouldn’t want it any other way.
With or without the clam rolls, but preferably with.
Listen to Jon’s commentary: