July 4, 2005 in China

I’ve always thought that when God met Adam in the “cool of the day” they were referring to very early morning. Today is July 4th and I was awakened at 3:30 a.m. by some very large mosquitoes. This is the most beautiful cool time so I went down to the corner where every morning two vendors set up giant pots of hot fat where they cook something akin to donuts or fry bread. I give the woman about 25 cents and get enough to feed us all. It would benefit from powdered sugar but they offer hot pepper sauce and thin soup instead. I sit down at a rusty table – sanitation questionable – assuring myself that nothing bad will live in 385 degrees of hot oil.

The woman tries Chinese first and then she speaks a little English. She asks my age, not knowing such a question is bad manners in my culture. I tell her, and then she asks where I am from.

I say “Meiguo” which means, mei, beautiful and guo, land. Today I am so proud to be born in a Beautiful Land. I have no desire for a gun but my Constitution says I can have one. I don’t seek to worship duct tape but the 1st Amendment says I can if I want to. Here in this isolated outback of civilization with huge concrete buildings and 6 lane-wide streets and top quality camcorders for $400 there are things missing that really matter, personal freedom and personal choice.

Bill Van Wyhe and Jan are going to celebrate July 4th when they teach today. I printed out a stylized flag, and he will wear a tiny American flag toothpick saved from a hamburger eaten in Hong Kong. They will sing America the Beautiful and explain the name in Chinese. They plan to read the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence and perhaps, if there is time, discuss the 1st few Amendments. If we all go to jail – so be it.
Yes, I think this is the best 4th of July of my entire life. I hope you will understand what you have at home – what I look forward to having again someday when I return. It is a priceless heritage.

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