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Happy Independence Day: Some thoughts on being American

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This is from 1986. I was an absolute boss in that bowtie.
This is from 1986. I was an absolute boss in that bowtie.

I want to thank you all for being a part of this week's sort of detour from B1G 2015. When the team was discussing what our summer coverage would look like this year, this week was circled as sort of a break from the action. Some of that was obviously due to the logistical nature of a writing team that needs breaks from time to time, but a lot of it was also because it's fun to sort of take this site in different and interesting directions every once in a while. And honestly, I don't think we could have gotten much better than we did this week. From LPW's lead on the Northwestern Jerseys that led into discussions on the commodification of Veteran support to some really insightful thoughts from GF3 on what it means to be a veteran, and then the tails into summer nostalgia and mancaves, this week has been very insightful and entertaining and from the looks of the comments, I think you all would agree.

With Independence Day tomorrow, I wanted to finish the week with a few short thoughts on what this time of year means to me. I seriously appreciate that you all have allowed us to be so #sortasports this week and promise that starting on Monday we will get back to our regularly scheduled football-centric programming, but for one last day I wanted to be just a little bit patriotic. Let me tell you a little bit about what being an American citizen means to me.

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When I was growing up, my mom used to make a big deal about special days. Since I was adopted, there were more than enough occasions to make me feel like I was pretty great. There was the day that my parents went and picked me up from the airport and became my parents, there was the day that the judge officially signed the paperwork giving my parents sole legal custody of me, there was the day that my sister mailed the letter to the adoption agency saying that they wanted me. The list goes on and on and on, and honestly, I have forgotten almost all of those dates as I've gotten older. That is, I've forgotten all of them except one - the day I became an American Citizen.

The event itself seems extremely innocuous to me. That's probably because I was not even two years old when it happened. Still, every year on July 3rd, my mom would get out the baby book and show me pictures of me in my pink shirt, white vest, and killer bowtie, just waving a flag like I just didn't care. It was a special day because that day was when I was officially a part of America. Even though I was here and for all intent and purpose, I was living with all of the legal benefits of being an American citizen - at least as much as a 1.5 year old can live with - that day was when I was an American.

The thing is, it hadn't been until recently that I understood just how special that moment really was. We talk a lot about membership here on Off Tackle Empire. Membership in the Big Ten, membership in the fandom that is your specific team, membership in various memes and jokes that we throw around as if they were second nature. Almost all of us take for granted the membership privileges we receive by being citizens of the United States of America. And, for the most part, a lot of us probably got these rights by virtue of being born. It was a right bestowed upon us by some beautiful birth lottery that granted us the rights to freedom and liberty and carrying on like idiots during the workday about who was the best team in 1994. For me? I was one of the lucky ones. I didn't have to pass some huge test. I didn't really have to do anything. I showed up, my parents did some oath taking for me, and voila, I'm an American.

Despite various ages in my life where I probably spent too much time worrying about my cultural identity - despite being about as Korean as Korean barbecue - I always felt pretty lucky to be part of a country where I could be so very different looking than everyone around me but also be given the rights that they had. I was granted citizenship into a much larger identity and even though I still get a little iffy around extreme patriotism - I find America, the Beautiful and God Bless America awful songs in every way - I still can't help but be proud to be an American citizen. It's a weird, but really cool feeling. I went from not being part of that fraternity to being accepted all in one afternoon back in 1986, literally 29 years ago today. Once you realize that happened to you, the entire catalog of American thoughts on Independence, Freedom, and inclusion, all seem to be very tangible. At least they are to me now. I cannot even imagine not being an American Citizen. And so, every year, Independence Day reminds me to be thankful for that honor. It's something I try not to take for granted.

And so, as you all are celebrating this weekend, take a few seconds to be thankful for this country and the rights that come along with being one of its citizen. Have a drink - or two, or three - to celebrate those of us who are happy to have been sworn into this group, and maybe go and wish someone well who hopes to one day call themselves an American citizen too. Oh, and also don't blow up your face with fireworks. Happy Independence Day everyone! Eat, drink, and shoot off fireworks.