Stars and Stripes flags flutter proudly, high above perfectly manicured lawns.
A few firecrackers spit, as the barbecues sizzle.
White picket fences gleam in the summer sun.
It’s the 4th July in Connecticut, an affluent state just north of New York, and Americans are revelling in their Independence Day holiday weekend.
We enjoy our own BBQ and generous celebration, thanks to good friends Michael and Amanda Warren. Originally from the north of England, but now assimilated Americans after living here for almost 25 years, and bringing up their 3 children in the land of the free.
Later, we watch the “Macy’s 4th July music and fireworks concert” live on TV. A dazzling pyrotechnic display dances over the Hudson River, as a succession of musicians laud their mighty country.
Afterwards, we watch The American Sniper on TV. Based on the real life of Chris Kyle, Bradley Cooper plays the fiercely patriotic Navy Seal, who joins up after watching 9/11 and knowing that being a rodeo cowboy does not give him what he craves.
In 4 tours of Iraq, he kills more than 150 “insurgents” in their own country and becomes known as the legend. A huge bounty is put on his head by the Iraqis.
Back home between tours of duty, he struggles to come to terms with leading a normal life with his wife and young children, when he could be in the war zone protecting his comrades and everyone in his home country.
Barack Obama is nearing the end of his second term of office. The Democrats’ natural instinct is to recoil from fighting wars overseas, after the disastrous Iraqi conflict undertaken by the Bush Republican administration.
But the new ISIS threat increases by the day.
The United States of America is at a crossroads. Does it continue to be the world’s policeman and, like Bradley Cooper, remain proud to fight on foreign soil for freedom at home, behind the white picket fences?
Or is that exactly why the developed world is terrorised today by an organisation that makes Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda look like boy scouts?
How will USA and the world look next 4th July, I wonder…….