The 4th of July — or Independence Day, if you’re Bill Pullman (#chills) — is a joyful day for all Americans. Patriotism gets everyone a little hyped up, but I daresay in this country especially we don’t hold back when it comes to celebrating our existence on this planet. (On this national holiday, or ever.) We fought for our independence…we earned ourselves a country!…and therefore, we shall drink beer and blow stuff up.
If you find yourself wondering, “How can I best celebrate this great nation?” and/or, “I’m not from here — what the hell is going on and how do I get in on the action?”, well, I’m here to help. Without further ado, here’s a list of 4th of July essentials that would make George W. Bush declare, “Mission Accomplished.”
- Wear a patriotic cutoff sleeve Walmart t-shirt
This is the first item because it is the most important. An absolutely essential element of Independence Day patriotism is the red, white, and blue outfit. But not just any outfit will do. If you wish to fully communicate to the world your warm blooded Americanness, look no further than the t-shirt section at your nearest Walmart. Identify a shirt that features at least two of the following: the American flag, a bald eagle, the Bud Lite logo, a NASCAR vehicle, the word “America,” and/or an unironic patriotic saying. Immediately cut off the sleeves, pair with jean shorts, and be on your merry way.
- Watch a parade
The parade is the most underrated element of a perfect 4th of July. Yes, fireworks are awesome. But so is watching your neighbors walk or ride by, dressed to the nines in their cutoff sleeve Walmart tees, celebrating your community’s place in the United States of America. Who doesn’t love dogs wearing American flag bandanas, fire trucks honking their horns, high school marching bands playing terribly, and low-rent politicians waving from Chrysler Sebring convertibles? The parade is the spice of small town American life! Don’t miss it.
- BBQ some meat
When the parade is over, we all know what time it is: barbecue time. Fire up that grill — charcoal, if you’re a real man — and dump on the burgers, dogs, and ribs. Oh, did I just say ribs? Why yes, I did. Ribs are the Filet Mignon of the backyard barbecue. And they actually resemble real parts of an animal, so they are terrifyingly awesome, just like this country. This recipe looks both delicious and terrible for you. Perfect. Get on it!
- Drink good beer
Look. I know your Walmart cutoff sleeve t-shirt says “Bud Lite” on it. But that does not — I repeat, does not — mean you have to drink terrible beer. Be a good citizen this year by filling up your cooler with a variety of delicious beers from a local brewery. You might find a new favorite. (Hint: it probably won’t have “light” in the name.)
- Watch — and use — fireworks
OK, so this item is obvious. Fireworks are the pinnacle of any proper 4th of July celebration. Find your nearest show here. But you can add to the pyro fun (if you can in your state) by safely setting off a firework or two of your own. At least sparklers are legal just about everywhere. There’s nothing more American than having the power to blow stuff up, am I right?!
- Celebrate your country
In all seriousness (not that this post hasn’t been serious), Independence Day is a big deal. Around 200 years ago, we defeated a seriously powerful nation (now our besties) with some wig-toting militias (okay, and the help of some other powerful friends) and have since gone on to become the most powerful nation on Earth. This country has flaws. (Many, many flaws. Dear God, the flaws.) But we have a lot to be proud of. So this 4th of July, rock that Walmart cutoff sleeve t-shirt, celebrate your community, stuff your fat American face with grilled meat, toast your friends and family with some cold local brews, light things on fire, ooh and ahh at the pretty explosions, and do it all with pride. This much, at least, we have earned.