I was in France for the 4th of July. We were staying with a group of friends and family outside the town of Fiox where my friend Isa grew up. Rightly so, we hosted a 4th of July party for Isa’s French family and friends. We had all the usual fare—chips, hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, steamed mussels, and even s’mores. They don’t have graham crackers in France so we had to use butter-sugar cookies. I can tell you that s’mores are even better with butter-sugar cookies.

At some point in the evening, Isa decided that we had to sing the National Anthem for her French friends. I told her that I had no problem with that, but that it seemed a little unusual and that she should tell the French that this wasn’t part of our usual tradition. “We eat greasy food and blow things up,” I said. “We don’t normally sing, and they should know the proper traditions.” I was sort of kidding, but also a little bit serious. In thirty years I have never sung the National Anthem at a 4th of July party.

And then we sang, and quite frankly I was a bit moved. So moved that I think it should become part of my 4th of July tradition. It was a good reminder about just what we were celebrating.