I can't tell my history without taking you to the Ohio town where I grew up. It's a military town, and this essay revolves around a particular military custom known as a tattoo. Here, the location (a military base) and activity (a celebration of military strength) combine in an American performance of freedom that is implicitly backed by threats of violence. In this way, a small-town celebration on the 4th of July suggests that to live in post-9/11 America is to inhabit a place of tumult, fear, and boredom.

You do not currently have access to this content.