The most memorable Fourth of July in my long life took place in 1976, the Bicentennial Year. Accepted into the Future Farmers of America’s Work Experience Abroad Program, my Fourth of July was in Holland. Living and working in Europe that summer changed me.
It had never before occurred to me that we were the only people in the world to celebrate our independence on the Fourth of July. When you have not been exposed to other people and other places, your mind is just naturally narrow. Yes, it was a bit of a shock to me when I learned the Dutch would not be having a Fourth of July Celebration.
Then, thinking about it for a few minutes, it all made sense. And I began learning that what happens (things like our holidays and our traditions) in the U.S.A. doesn’t really have any impact on most of the world.
That summer also taught me that my way isn’t the only way. Nor is it always the best way. Even within the family. Because the program I was on, it was a homestay with a family on a farm where I lived and worked, I learned a lot about my new family. And I loved them. They were good to me and taught me much.
We are lucky in Guymon because we have people from other countries here, so we don’t even have to get on a plane for hours to learn about another culture. It broadens our minds when we do. It also helps us to be more understanding of others.
Back to the Fourth of July … so, four of us, young teenaged Americans gathered together and celebrated the most important Independence Day that would happen in our lives. We sat at an outdoor café having coffee and talked about home and our summer. It was good.
This year I seemed to spend quite a few hours watching WWII documentaries. That also seems appropriate to learn more about a time when freedoms and lives were being taken away. Once again, the insight from those stories makes me realize the beauty of my life here today. And at what cost it was attained.
If you have a chance, watch (or read) the story “Woman in Gold” that focus’ on the art the Nazi’s stole during WWII. It is a great movie and an even better book.
My daughter Missy called and had watched a “60 Minutes” episode on the “Ritchie Boys: The Secret U.S. Unit Bolstered by German – born Jews Who Helped the Allies Beat Hitler.” What a fascinating story. What many of the Ritchie Boys lost is not imaginable for me. And what they did to fight Hitler is amazing. There were also American – born German – speakers who were part of the Ritchie unit, but the German Jews made up a huge part of it.
Our history has so many parts that are fascinating to learn. Our country has a large number of people who make up this mix of what we call an American. Those other people’s history also becomes part of our story.
I hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July and you reflected on your family and your country and your story and how it fits in the big mix.
A meme on Facebook showed Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain saying, “Happy Treason Day.” Yes, our holiday looks much different to the British history teacher, doesn’t it?
See you on the bricks!