Crossing the pond for the Olympic Games? Pump up your patriotism at these sights that celebrate famous compatriots.
Americans headed to London for the Summer Olympics have the perfect opportunity to flaunt their patriotism on an international stage. I find it embarrassing when citizens of the United States act subservient in London, where they kowtow before Queen Elizabeth, gush over royal weddings and envy the palaces. Whatever happened to the Spirit of 1776?
It was even worse during the Iraq war, when some Americans pretended to be Canadians to deter the wrath of anti-war Londoners, of which there were quite a few. Please, fellow travelers, open a history book on your trans-Atlantic flight and read the part about where we kicked British butt in two wars and saved their arse in two others. We need to get over our inferiority complex, even if they do have fancy accents and know where to put the salad fork.
Don't be some turncoat who spends half the day cheering Team USA and then goes randomly sightseeing like some Benedict Arnold on shore leave. If you have to go sightseeing, do it like a patriot.
Here's an All-American itinerary with U.S.-related landmarks and ideas for spontaneous pro-U.S. demonstrations you can organize via social media. (That's why Americans invented it!) For starters, you must only patronize American establishments: the Radisson Hotel, Starbucks Coffee, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald's, etc.
Franklin lived in London for 16 years, representing Pennsylvania and other colonies. Despite his objections, Parliament passed the Stamp Act. This resulted in the first unified opposition to British rule and the battle cry: "No taxation without representation!" You could smell independence brewing.
Inspired by the clammy English winters, it was here that Franklin invented the Franklin stove. He also anticipated the StairMaster, for he climbed up and down the stairs for exercise.
Attend a dramatized tour of his home, the "Historical Experience" (www.benjaminfranklinhouse.org), but keep repeating to everyone you meet, "They should have listened to Franklin."
Flash mob idea: Chant "USA, USA" outside the home and alternate with "Ben was right!"
For about a year in the late 1960s the United States' greatest guitar genius lived in a flat near fashionable Carnaby Street. Next door was the former home of another immigrant musician, German composer George Frideric Handel. Through some twisted logic, Handel's home became a museum and Hendrix's home became its office. It should clearly be the other way around.
Flash mob idea: Perform en masse Hendrix's Woodstock version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" using left-handed air guitar. Occasionally play it with your teeth and burn it as a finale. Use a boom box or imitate the guitar sound with your tongue.
Bonus points: Start a petition to create a Hendrix Museum, with offices in the Handel House.
This statue of Honest Abe is a copy of one in Lincoln Park, Chicago, by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. It's nice to know the British appreciate our favorite president, even though they couldn't come up with something original.
Flash mob idea: Recite in unison the Gettysburg Address, followed by singing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." If you don't shed a tear, you are not a real American.
Steve LeBeau is a writer based in St. Paul. He is part French, part English, part Scotch-Irish, part Swedish and 100 percent American.
Ike's statue sits in the most American section of London, in front of the American Embassy and near his World War II headquarters. Both types of Americans can be happy here because nearby are statues of Ronald Reagan and FDR.
WWII flash mob: Stand rank-and-file before the statue, salute, then march in formation to the "St. Louis Blues March" by Glenn Miller.
'50s flash mob: Honor Eisenhower's presidential years by having a mass hula hoop contest while listening to "Rock Around the Clock." Occasionally chant "We Like Ike" and "USA, USA!"
Most London bartenders have never heard of a martini. If they have, they think it is sweet vermouth on ice. You can do your part by requesting one every time you visit a pub. When the waitperson acts confused, simply present a recipe card for martinis. Or you can refer them to the "Mad Men" website, where they can download instructions. The Brits make enough gin, after all.
Flash mob idea: If you are successful, start chanting "USA, USA." If you are not successful, start chanting "USA, USA."