With military personnel stationed all over the world, it's natural to think that everybody celebrates the 4th of July just like we do in the states. However, while many overseas celebrations are very similar, others vary greatly.
Many members of our military (and their families) are stationed in locations where the American 4th of July celebrations are somewhat unwelcome. In political climates where cultural sensitivity and personal safety are at risk, many Independence Day celebrations are held in a much more reserved, private way. Military service men and women may still fire up their barbecue grills and burn some burgers or hot dogs, drink an American beer and watch a patriotic movie. ("Top Gun," "Independence Day" or "The Patriot" are excellent choices, to name just a few.) American patriotic music may be going in the background from a 4th of July themed playlist. But, military members stationed in volatile locations don't participate in public outcries of their patriotism. Exterior displays of red, white and blue may be limited, as are fireworks.
However, in areas where Americans are not in physical threat of violence or are stationed on military bases, Independence Day may be an event full of pomp and circumstance, just like in the U.S. Elaborate fireworks displays will feature lots of aerial excitement at the end of the night, just as a full schedule of other events may make the day complete. Sample activities might include:
- Live patriotic music: Many overseas celebrations held in association with American bases include a military band performance. Renditions of the national anthem and various all-time patriotic favorites will be on the play list.
- Red, white and blue: The American colors, including the flag, will be prominently displayed all over the base. Buntings, colorful clothing and lots of elaborate decorations will bring out the pride in all attendees.
- Speeches: Political officials and military leaders will take the podium to deliver moving and heartfelt speeches to audience members. Stories of past wars and battles will enliven the delivered messages, encouraging pride in all who hear them.
- Military detail presentations and performances: Various military details will perform rigorously practiced routines, marching drills and other activities. Officials will award soldiers with awards and medals. Recognition of the importance of the military members will be paramount.
- Uniforms: American service men and women will be encouraged to don their uniforms with pride during the formal events of the celebration.
- U.S. Embassy activities: Often, the U.S. embassies and consulates will host parties for those who receive private invitations. Dignitaries, politicians, military leaders and aristocrats in the area will be invited. These celebrations are usually quite elaborate and feature strong American 4th of July traditions.
However, while there are many overseas celebrations for our deployed service men and women, many of them do not have the privilege of getting the day off for fun and games. For lots of them, it's just another work day, where they have to go out on patrol, defend the flag and stand up for American interests. For them, every day is Independence Day in the truest sense of the word.