4th of July
REUTERS/Eric Thayer

My passport says I'm a Chilean citizen, but I'm as American as apple pie and anything else that bleeds red, white and blue. My parents and I moved to the States in 1990 on Thanksgiving, the second most American holiday there is, when I was just 10 months old.

I've been luckier than most Latino immigrants in this country. Unlike my parents I haven't had to suffer through much discrimination and most people I have met can't even tell I'm Latina. But to say that my upbringing hasn't affected how I think about and celebrate the 4th of July would be a lie.

Growing up, the 4th of July was a fun summer holiday filled with sparklers and great burgers on the grill. I spent most holidays with my younger brother and sister watching the sky fill up with bright lights as our neighbour shot up fireworks into the air. Every year we'd begin watching from our bedroom windows until we could convince our parents to let us watch from our front yard. I can still remember the smell of the fireworks smoke as it spread down our street.

Despite the fun memories, I don't think it was until I was much older that I realised how lucky I was to be living in a country where I am free to be who I want, say what I want and do (within the limits of the law) what I want.

As a journalist, I've written and learned about the hardships women all over the world go through, even in my country of birth. Higher education, which is extremely expensive and often an unattainable goal in Chile, was a given for me here in the States. I was able to go to my top choice university (in one of the most quintessentially American towns in the nation, Boston), and get a degree in journalism.

In my third year of university, my parents achieved the ultimate American dream: becoming US citizens. They were sworn in as full fledged Americans just before the 4th of July. That year our family celebrated Independence Day with the same enthusiasm as we had celebrated El 18 de Septiembre (Chilean day of patriotism) in the past.

Although I have yet to become an American citizen myself, I hope that my swearing in is just as all-American as my parent's was.

There is nothing more patriotic than spending the Fourth of July hearing an orchestra play the 1812 Overture as fireworks blast overhead, which is how I'm going to spend this year's Independence Day.