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The United States is more than sum of its parts

America is like a giant bowl of potato salad on the 4th of July.

OK, we know that you are thinking that we need to get out of the sun, but work with us here. We promise you there is a point we are getting at.

Potato salad is a staple at family picnics across the country. There are dozens of variations on the same basic recipe of potatoes, boiled eggs, dressing and some seasonings. Some are heavy on the mayonnaise. Some are sweeter, others more tart. Some are heavy on the dill while others include a liberal helping of hot sauce.

If you break down potato salad to its constituent parts, each ingredient has its strengths and weaknesses. Some could easily stand on their own. Others work to enhance the flavors that are there. Still others, add that bit of contrast, the tart that allows you to appreciate the sweet, the soft that lets you appreciate the firm.

Each ingredient brings something to the party and each contributes to making that bowl of potato salad a centerpiece at every picnic and barbecue.

Making potato salad from scratch is a tedious process. There is cooking, cutting, peeling and prepping. There is the final tasting and deciding what special element is missing, the pinch that brings it to perfection. It is a process more than mechanically following a recipe. No two batches of homemade potato salad are identical.

As with all things, people’s perception of the perfect potato salad varies, and that is OK. The world would be a dull place if all potato salad was blandly the same.

As with potato salad, the ingredients that make up America have their origins around the globe. Immigrants brought their traditions and beliefs to this new land, mixing with what native cultures already had in place and with the other immigrant groups to make something that was truly new and special. Seasoned with a can-do spirit, a core of self-reliance and the seeds of liberty, and the mixture of people and cultures has become something greater than the sum of its parts.

Potato salad is not without its faults. Too large a serving leaves you bloated and gassy and there is the risk of making people ill if it was left out too long. America too has its faults. There are forces at work that constantly seek to rip this country apart for their own ends.

Still, America endures, moving ever forward. Sometimes sprinting, sometimes limping up to that hilltop where a shining city waits to be built.

This weekend, Americans of all walks of life gather to celebrate and remember the patriots who came together in the sweltering summer of 1776 to form a new nation and declare to the world their independence. In celebrating the birth of the United States of America, we also celebrate what each fellow American brings to this potato salad of a nation. Each of us brings something to the mixture of peoples and cultures and shares in making this perpetually new nation.