Happy Birthday America

Elle Metz

Young Alumni Programs Manager

The Fourth of July is quickly climbing my list of favorite holidays. Pros: no crazy expectations (I’m looking at you, New Year’s), fireworks, America, barbecues, wearing red, white and blue. Cons: the biker convention across the street from my house has been shooting off fireworks at 1 am every night this week.

Across the country, people are headed to beach houses or baseball games or cook outs. They’re wearing crazy America-themed outfits (re: jorts). Or if they’re like me, compiling “USA” playlists that consist of everything from the Counting Crows’ “American Girls” to Kanye and Jay-Z’s “Made in America.” We can’t help ourselves. We love the USA.

Our country has a rich and tumultuous history. Notre Dame was reminded of this when we commemorated the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg on June 22. At this battle, our own Father Corby gave a blessing to the Confederate and Union soldiers. He later described the scene: “I noticed that all, Catholic and non-Catholic, officers and private soldiers, showed a profound respect, wishing to receive at this fatal crisis every benefit of divine grace …. (My) general absolution was intended for all … not only for the brigade, but for all, North and South, who were susceptible to it and who were about to appear before their Judge.” 

Father Jenkins traveled to that very spot to honor this history and hold mass. Check out the video recap here. Being a film/television major, I was reminded of Coach Boone’s speech from Remember the Titans:

“Anybody know what this place is?  This is Gettysburg…Fifty thousand men died right here on this field, fightin’ the same fight that we’re still fightin’ amongst ourselves today…Listen to their souls men.  ‘I Killed my brother with malice in my heart.’  ‘Hatred destroyed my family.’  You listen and you take a lesson from the dead.  If we don’t come together right now, then we, too, will be destroyed.  Just like they were.  I don’t care if you like each other or not, but you will respect each other, and maybe, I don’t know, maybe we’ll learn to play this game like men.”

Chills. Gets me every time. But in all seriousness, Independence Day is more than fireworks and great food. As Father Corby and yes, Denzel Washington remind us, America is special because of our diversity. How wonderful that we’re a melting pot. And how wonderful that despite our differences, we can still relate to each other, person to person, as humans. We share similar fears, joys, needs and desires. So on America’s birthday this year, be thankful for our differences and similarities. Be tolerant and kind. And enjoy the fun times.

One Response to “Happy Birthday America”

  1. Catherine says:

    What a beautiful tribute to our beloved country. Great blogging! USA <3