It’s Independence Day today in America and I’m celebrating in a country that once owned New York City for two short years. New Amsterdam (Manhattan) was purchased in 1624 for the amount of $24 by the Dutch West India Company. In 1626 the English fought and won the rights to the land and, finally, after the American Revolution, it became our country’s capital.
Ironically, this same week Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte met with our US President in my nation’s capital. I have to say, Rutte outshined in orange representation. Did I mention the Dutch were once ruled by the House of Orange and it’s the national color here? News outlets jumped on the story where PM Rutte boldly interrupted one of the President’s “very very” sentences with a remark of just plain “No.” I admit, I have a love-hate relationship with the Dutch’s blunt, oftentimes rude comments, as do many of my compatriots who live here, but I didn’t mind one bit watching Rutte’s response. The Dutch may be rubbing off on me.
The world already has the Dutch to thank for so many ingenious inventions like the CD, the DVD, wifi, Bluetooth, the telescope, the microscope, donuts and, most notably, Tony’s Chocolonely. I wonder what my home country would be like if it stayed in the hands of the Dutch. Would there already be dykes surrounding the Gulf protecting our vulnerable flood zones? Would there be bike lanes in every major city encouraging healthier modes of transport? Agriculture would surely be safe in the hands of one of the smallest countries whose agriculture production could feed the world. The US could learn a thing or two from the Dutch.
While I look for some leftover sparklers from New Year’s Eve here, a celebration of such magnitude that could outdo any American firework display, I feel a sense of longing for home. These feelings are coming just in time as my family prepares to repatriate back to the land of the free and the home of the brave next week.
May the 4th be with you!