USA a Land of the Free, the Brave, the Fun

“Land of the free and home of the brave.” Those last phrases from its national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” are often what comes first to mind when someone thinks of the United States of America. Beyond all the red-white-and-blue myths of the USA, though, there are some fundamental truths about the land and its people.

First, Americans are not all cowboys, no matter what Hollywood might try to make you believe. True, they like to dress up like cowboys from time to time. They can’t help it; though many may have never have been within 10 feet of a steer or a horse, those hats and boots look so cool! These days, most Americans live in cities and dress pretty much any way they want to (or at least the way their boss says they can during working hours).

Second, Americans don’t work all the time, even though statistics say they’re among the most productive workers in the world. Turns out they do have big fun. Really. Well, yeah, they don’t take as many holidays as folks in some other countries do, but when they do take off work, they’re serious about their fun. The way they seem to like our fun best is with close friends and family, like backyard barbecues or pool parties or local high school football games. Strong family ties are definitely a part of their good ol’ American charm.

In fact, one of the greatest things about America is that there’s almost always a party going on somewhere. You just have to know where to look.

For instance, do you love garlic? If you’re among other lovers of “the stinking rose,” then you’ll want to check out the great Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California. They say you’ve never tasted anything better than garlic ice cream (um, maybe we’ll take their word for that!).

Would you like to see some real cowboys? Then the annual Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo is the place for you. You can go the spot Where the West Begins and see not only steers of all kinds, but other livestock raised by youngsters intending to go into ranching or farming. Plus, you’ll see some of the greatest ridin’ and ropin’ by cowboys today.

Perhaps you’d prefer to watch the “sport of kings,” horse racing. Then it’s The Kentucky Derby for you. It’s not as refined as Ascot in Great Britain, but the ladies do wear some stunning hats and you’ll see some of America’s finest thoroughbred horses. Be sure you try a mint julep!

Like your festivals a little on the chilly side? Then you need to see the great St. Paul Winter Carnival in beautiful Minnesota. Don’t miss the ice sculpture contest!

Perhaps sports is more your thing. America has its own form of football, different from the kind of football played everywhere else in the world. Or there’s the “great American pastime,” baseball. The great thing is, you don’t have to shell out big bucks to see professional teams play. There are excellent minor league, college and high school and community league games to watch.

Maybe you’d just like to take in some of America’s fabulous mix of sights and sounds. If so, you’ll find generous, kind-hearted people eager to welcome you anywhere “from sea to shining sea.”