This one is hard because where I grew up American patriotism tops the list of things that are “demasiado gringas.” I get somewhat of a free pass back home because they know I am a dork and because I was born here, so unlike the many Miami-visiting people that occasionally yell “U-S-A! U-S-A!” or sport US flag bumper stickers for no reason whatsoever, I am allowed to cheer for a place that is also my own country. But mostly because they know I am a dork for all things national and patriotic of either stripe: amarillo, azul y rojo and red, white and blue. I am a sucker for Olympic opening ceremonies and anything else where people parade representing their country. See? I am a dork.
I like DC because people here are pretty patriotic. For the most part this is not a city of people that would sew a Canadian flag patch to their backpack as they travel through some country in Europe pretending to speak the language and to be super knowledgeable about the history and culture. For the most part this is a city of people that will stand around a giant screen in Dupont circle to watch Team USA play soccer against the European country where other people are backpacking. It’s also a city of people that will rush to the street to sing the national anthem after we captured Bin Laden. And a city of people that really celebrate 4th of July and own cool t-shirts that say “America: back-to-back world war champs.”
I like all that. I like singing the national anthem and cheering for team USA and screaming “U-S-A! U-S-A!” and while I don’t have the world war champs t-shirt I did try to purchase it to wear as my lucky t-shirt on my second comprehensive exam. But I also like that DC is a city were people can be patriotic about whatever country they want. There is a car with a Bulgarian flag sticker that parks close to my building in Dupont Circle. Grill from Ipanema was full of Brazilians supporting their home team during the World Cup. El Patio was packed with Argentineans doing the same. There was a parade of Georgian flags on Massachusetts Ave back in 2008. There’s an annual Greek festival at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral. There was a watching party outside the Embassy of Chile when the miners were rescued. And there is always, always someone holding a Venezuelan flag. At the start of the Army Ten Miler I saw a guy wearing a Venezuelan flag hat and we talked for half a mile or so about this phenomenon. He said he’s gotten free pizza before for wearing his hat. “It’s good to be patriotic and let people know where you’re from”, he said. I agree. And I love DC for giving me lots of opportunities to be patriotic about the two places where I come from.