America – the beautiful and complex

by Zehorit Heilicher, Tastemaker in Residence

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deck-hand singing on the steamboat deck ...
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else …

            “I Sing of America” Walt Whitman

Artwork by Heidi Mckeown

Artwork by Heidi Mckeown

America has a complexity of character that fascinates me: “pomp and circumstance” style of celebration and ritual paired with simplicity and casualness that’s appealing and winning. Major league games move me with their flags blowing up high, the anthem sung and often a presentation from our armed forces. At the same token, the friendliness and casual openness in my daily dealings with Americans is heartwarming and enjoyable. 

As an immigrant of almost 30 years I have shared with my American husband and our family the best of the 4th of July traditions: parades, barbeques, family time and of course – fireworks! Every summer we packed up our growing family and headed to the park, to a boat on a lake, or to a friend’s house and shared food, laughter and gratitude for the life this great country has provided us.

I embraced my new land’s traditions, and fused them with my own. My table often displayed American BBQ chicken with Israeli salad, Hummus and pita. My Persian friend, Sima, would add her beautiful Saffron rice and my Midwestern friend, Jodi, would bring corn and wild rice. Somehow, our table was a beautiful fusion of our roots and our present.

This holiday, celebrating Independence and freedom, often reminds me to embrace and appreciate the diversity and richness of this country; not only in resources and landscape but also the colorful ethnic communities, the many professions, political and national interests and economic powers. This abundance makes for contentious interaction at times – and yet, I am deeply grateful for the wide spectrum of opinions, practices of life style that America embraces and on the 4th of July celebrates!