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“That’s it. I’m moving to Canada.”
Whenever we’re displeased or frustrated with the good ‘ol United States of America, we threaten to seek sanctuary in our neighbors to the north.
Why? Because we just can’t take it anymore: the gas prices, the unemployment and yet another losing season of our favorite sports team (Kentucky basketball aside, of course).
Whatever your recent reason for wanting to flee the American motherland, the Fourth of July is the perfect day to remind yourself why your ancestors came to this strange and wonderful country as huddled masses yearning to breathe free:
1. You can make millions with social media gaming
Only in America can someone like 45-year-old Mark Pincus, co-founder of social media gaming site Zynga, make the newcomers’ list for Forbes richest people in America by creating FarmVille.
2.We invented a food that will outlive us
The Twinkie, originally invented in Chicago, was included in the National Millennium Time Capsule by former president Bill Clinton in 1999 as an “object of enduring American symbolism.” Hostess suggests a shelf life for Twinkies of 23 days, but we all know the tube-shaped pastry’s legacy will live on much longer than that.
3. You only need a few seconds on YouTube to become a celebrity
Just set up your camera, insert a cute cat and watch yourself become notorious.
4. We have the world’s smallest park for leprechauns
Officially designated as a city park in 1976, Mill Ends Park in Portland, Ore., is all of 452 square inches. Journalist Dick Fagan said he caught a leprechaun there, and wished for a park of his own. According to Fagan, Mill Ends Park was what the leprechaun granted him. St. Patrick’s Day activities are held every year around the park, which is about the size of a lamppost hole.
5. Two of our presidents kept pet alligators.
According to the Presidential Pet Museum website (yes, such a thing exists) John Quincy Adams owned gators, and CNN reports that Herbert Hoover did as well, letting a pair of alligators roam the White House lawn.
Perhaps we wouldn’t have had the Secret Service scandal if we replaced White House agents with alligators.
6. The Ferlinghetti censorship trial
It’s probably one of the more important court cases on free speech that you’ve never heard of, but the 1957 Ferlinghetti censorship trial defined what is meant by “prurient interest,” or rather, what can and cannot be censored in the written word. More importantly, it solidified the work and literary contributions of Allen Ginsberg, one of my favorite poets.
7. The Olympics
Sure, the Olympics technically originated as an ancient all-male Grecian tournament, but don’t tell me you don’t feel a swell of American pride in your chest when the national anthem plays and our athletes walk in during the opening ceremony.
Even the least patriotic of Americans secretly hopes the U.S. blows every other country out of the water when it comes to gold medals.
8. We have best superheroes.
Peter Parker. Captain America. Superman. Batman. Pocahontas (OK, not a superhero. But should be).
When there’s evil in the world, and there’s no one else to turn to, at least we’ve constructed some fictitious all-American characters to believe in.
9. Air conditioning
The first man to invent the modern electrical air conditioning unit was New York native Willis Carrier, of the Carrier air conditioning company. Thank him for not melting into a puddle of sweat.
To end on a serious note, one of the best things about being an American is, well, being an American, and being able to possess the freedom to live, work, and in my case, write.