Do they have the Fourth of July in other countries?

Yes, they do, but they only celebrate the Fourth of July in other countries when America has done something for them. And it better be pretty recently.

In the summer of 1991 a lot of non-Americans were celebrating the Fourth, especially in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The US of A had just borne the heaviest load in pushing Sadaam Hussein's forces back into Iraq, and, thanks in no small part to CNN bringing the war and the build up to it into every home, not only in America, but also around the globe, for a few shining moments, we were the heroes - Americans.

This was pre-9/11, almost two decades post Vietnam, Ronald Reagan's VP was in the White House, and the world wasn't in very bad shape. Yes, we'd had Libya's Gaddafi to contend with, Panama and Grenada skirmishes, but most American schoolchildren couldn't name the characters in any of those mini-dramas. Then on August 2, 1990, Sadaam Hussein decided to enlarge his dictatorship by the size of the Emirate of Kuwait. CNN had just set up shop around the world trying to capture the international business market on its new-fangled cable television network, and they had the pure, unadulterated, dumb luck to be in the right place at the right time to catch all the action on their new toy, placing themselves at the top of the breaking news pyramid. The 24-hour news cycle was born.

The relatively clean (for everyone but the Iraqis), surprisingly quick war came down to 100 hours of great public relations for the US. Ten years later we'd go back to the region for the bloody, life-claiming, injury-laden (as predicted in 1991) difficult task of removing Sadaam and his forces. Keeping up the good will for America became a more challenging task. But in 1991 everybody loved us. Well, almost everybody.

I happened to be in Saudi Arabia with my husband and family as permanent party to a U.S. military organization that had been assisting the Saudis for 20 years. On that Fourth of July we found ourselves, with many other ex-patriots representing the freedom-loving countries of the world, at a reception at the British embassy in the Kingdom's capital of Riyadh, thrown to honor the victory known as Desert Storm. Everyone was in formal attire. My husband was in the dress blues of an Infantry officer. As only a major he was outranked, by several pay grades, by just about every other officer attending from not only America but also all our allies.

The food and libations flowed freely in keeping with the traditions of the Arab culture, complete with hor d' oeuvres , a generous buffet, and assorted sweets in abundance. People were in the mood to celebrate, and America had just handed the world a good reason to cheer.

The Arabs in the room were doing the classic conversation dance with the westerners present. This choreography is an example of cultural differences defining personal space. Those of us from the West are comfortable in a zone of personal space equal to the distance between two people who are shaking hands. Arabs greet each other with a kiss, so their zone of personal space is much closer between two people. The result when an Arab and an American or a Brit are having a conversation is the Arab steps in close when he speaks and the westerner steps back to keep the bounds of their comfort zone. You can spend an entire evening being amused watching the one step forward and one step backwards dance between people from the two cultures trying to accomplish no more than small talk.

The party was in full swing with most attendees paying more attention to the food, the conversation, and the rare opportunity to observe western women in low-cut dresses than to the initial reason for the event. When suddenly, the ringing of a bell brought the room's attention to a speaker on the podium where the orchestra was located. I don't remember the words of the introduction he made. But within seconds of him speaking, the band struck up the opening chords of "The Star Spangled Banner."

If you've never heard your country's national athem played on foreign soil, it is hard to express the emotions of the experience in words. Maybe the best way to paint the picture is to describe the reaction of the various people in the room. Imagine a large ballroom, encircled by people from almost every nation standing perfectly still and in respectful silence. Scattered among them, around the room, are Americans, standing at attention, with their right hands placed over their hearts.

"Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner still wave o're the land of the free and the home of the brave?"

Like sentries on duty, standing a solitary post until relief arrives, you can pick them out from the crowd. They are here and there around the room, lining the inner circle, a few back almost hidden among the others, a couple off to the side by themselves. The Americans, paying tribute to their homeland, to those who have fought for their freedoms, to those who have paid the price, to everything we have accomplished from landing on Plymouth Rock to landing on Omaha Beach, to landing on the moon.

For a few seconds after the strains of the music melt into the night, no one moves. The Americans remain with their hands over their hearts. The other nationals remain in silence. Finally, after the moment has been frozen into the memories of everyone present, applause erupts like fireworks bursting in the sky, complete with cheers and shouts. And not just from the Yanks. From everyone.

July 4, 1991, great night to be an American.

And on this July 4th, it's great to be an American still.



J


In Paperback by Kathleen Cochran

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Comments 13 comments

Phil Plasma profile image

Phil Plasma 5 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

You must have had quite the experience being there. BTW, I'm pretty sure that every place that uses the Gregorian Calendar has a July 4th.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

I believe you are right! Old joke -

Thanks for the comment. It was four years of amazing experiences. I should write a book!


That Grrl profile image

That Grrl 4 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

Other countries have their own national days, like the US Independence Day. They just don't happen on the same, July 4th, day. I celebrated US day when I lived in the US. I don't celebrate it now that I no longer live there. My country has it's own national patriotic sort of day.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Of course they do, and rightly so. I was trying to be funny. Usually doesn't work. Thanks for reading and commenting.


SilentReed profile image

SilentReed 3 years ago from Philippines

"Ours is not to reason why,ours is but to do and die" How many soldiers gave up their life believing their Political leaders were fighting a just cause? Disillusion and psychological disorder (PTSD) seem to be the lot of many war veterans. Only those that have seen the ugly face of war can truly appreciate the meaning of the word "Freedom" To them I say "Happy 4th of July"

In answer to the query of your title, The Philippines use to celebrate her independence on the 4th of July after the former U.S. colony was "granted" independence by the United States. A former Philippine President (Macapagal) move it back to June 12, the day the Filipinos declared their independence and began their uprising against another colonizer (Spain). This was before Admiral Dewey entered Manila Bay to "liberate" the islands during the American-Spanish war.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thanks for adding that interesting information to this hub. I never knew about the Philippines celebration.

You are certainly right about soldiers understanding the true meaning of freedom. They've paid the price for it.

Welcome to my hubs, SilentReed.


Cathy Gore 3 years ago

As usual, girl, you painted us a picture. This one was red, white & blue!


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thanks Cathy! I'll have to get you a copy of the whole story - I mean picture!


Monis Mas profile image

Monis Mas 3 years ago

There is an Independence Day in Poland - on November 11th


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Good to know - Hey that's our Veteran's Day!


mbuggieh 2 years ago

There can only be one authentic 4th of July; only one day that celebrates what happened in the British North American colonies in 1776!

And do, while other nations may have their own independence days, there is just one like ours; just one that celebrates the birth of the United States.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 months ago from Oakley, CA

Mexico's is May 5th; aka "Cinco de Mayo." ;)


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 5 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Of course! Thanks

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