“Hi” on the Fourth of July

I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news. The bad news is that TJP can’t move July 4th to a Monday or a Friday. You’re stuck with your day off in the middle of the week. (Sorry about that.) But the good news is that we can bring you a few bits from the Internet that may help you mark this Independence Day.

We turn first to a patriotic observance from a singer whose resolute faith could not be snuffed by her many trials. By now, several months have passed since Whitney Houston died suddenly in a Beverly Hills hotel room. More than ten years before that, however, she delivered an absolutely phenomenal performance of the “Star Spangled Banner” at the beginning of Super Bowl XXV–which was also smack in the middle of Operation Desert Storm. If you’ve never seen it, or if it’s been a while, take a moment.

The second link grew out of a conversation I had just the other day. This year, I’m spending the Fourth of July outside the United States. And while I’ll miss the traditional BBQ and fireworks at the Jersey Shore, being away from home has given me a somewhat sharper appreciation for the holiday. Simply put, I’m more conscious of being an American.

The other day, a Jesuit here shared how surprised he was by how people greeted him when he visited the USA. We say “Hi!” more than we say “Hello,” he observed, tending to be both informal and friendly. The remark reminded me of this insightful passage by cultural critic Jeremy McCarter–also an immigrant to the States–in his book “Bite the Hand That Feeds You.”

“Hi!” As I often say–for Americans do not realize it–the word is a democracy. (I come from a country where one can tell someone’s class by how they say “Hallo!” or “Hello!” or “Hullo,” or whether they say it at all.) But anyone can say “Hi!” Anyone does…. [During] my first meeting with Lyndon B. Johnson, the President of the United States, the Emperor of the Free World, before whom, like a Burgher of Calais, a halter round my neck, I would have sunk to my knees, pleading for a loan for my country? He held out the largest hand in Christendom, and said, “Hi, Henry!”

From all of us at TJP: Hi! And, of course, Happy Fourth of July.

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