Throw another shrimp on the grill

Published 10:07 pm Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I have been looking forward this week to covering Independence Day celebrations for only the second time in my life.

I’ve been a community newspaper reporter for several years, but only in the U.S. since 2012. Before that, I worked for a newspaper in the outer suburbs of Sydney, Australia.

Last year’s celebrations in Eclipse taught me a lot about the pride Americans take in their great nation. Mixing with the crowd, snapping photographs and conducting short interviews, a new level of enthusiasm and excitement was revealed to me.

Email newsletter signup

For many, it seemed, spending the day with family and friends in their hometown was especially important.

For instance, Jeni Cregan had traveled back to Suffolk with her family from Los Angeles. Her parents still live in Suffolk, she said, and they flew all the way across the country “just for this, because it’s important for my dad.”

“And for America,” John Cregan had added.

Australia Day is the Independence Day equivalent where I grew up, and it is very similar to Independence Day in practice and in spirit.

People come out to town and city centers for parades, wave flags, have a cookout (though it’s called a “barbie,” short for barbeque, the Aussie version of “grill”), and, since it’s on Jan. 26 — my birthday, incidentally — it’s also very hot.

That’s probably why water also plays a big part. Folks get out in pleasure crafts and cruise around.

At the Australia Days celebrations I covered through the years, people said much the same kinds of things I heard in Eclipse.

A particular part of Independence Day in Suffolk that I have been looking forward to this week is the Eclipse raft race. I wasn’t planning to field an entry; viewing from the dock is enough fun for me.

The Fourth of July, from what I’ve seen so far, is the most American of all holidays. Nations around the world have their own take on the basic concept, though, and its healthy and unifying to spend such days in celebration and reflection.

Throughout the rest of my years here, every Jan. 26, I’ll no doubt stop and think about what’s happening back where I came from. But I’m glad something pretty much the same happens where I am now.

The whole nation doesn’t celebrate my birthday like Australia did, but that, after all, was just one of life’s happy little coincidences.