Declaration of Independence declaring the colonies' independence from Great Britain. And the rest they say, is history.
Celebrating an American holiday while living overseas is always a bit different than it is back in the United States. First, since it isn't a local holiday, it is business as usual for the host country. That can make it easier to run out and buy last minute items but it also adds to the sense that the day really isn't a holiday. When we were in Albania, the Fourth of July was always a working holiday for us where Glenn and I would join our Ambassador in the receiving line at the Embassy's annual Independence Day reception. While we were there the reception was never actually held on the holiday itself (which always resulted in a lot of explanations about celebrating the 4th of July on an entirely different day.....), it was the closest we ever came to attending a celebratory party. Last year on the 4th we were actually in the Ionian Islands with a wonderful group of international friends and our eating, drinking and spending time with friends was reminiscent of the 4ths we had spent on the water with friends back in Norfolk.
So what are we doing this year? Last night we hosted a cookout for friends (old Albanian habits of not celebrating on the holiday itself die hard). We fired up the grill and cooked traditional American foods of hot dogs, hamburgers and barbecue chicken with all of the traditional sides. Because we are finally in a community where people understand the concept of bringing a dish to share, the meal was augmented with a wonderful assortment of international dishes. (And I'm realizing that it is so much easier to entertain when I don't have to do all of the cooking!). Today the rest of the SHAPE community is working but Americans have the day off. So this morning we are cleaning up from yesterday's festivities and exploring the Friday market. This afternoon we will head over to SHAPE to join the community in a giant 4th of July celebration. Everyone says this is one of the biggest events of the year with music, food and carnival games. We've promised Sidney that we will stay for the fireworks (at 2300 none the less since the sun sets so late). Whereas in Albania fireworks were a daily occurrence, Sidney hasn't seen any since we've arrived in Belgium so he is excited. The festivities probably won't be the like ones back home but they will be as close as we can get so we will enjoy this little piece of Americana.
So Happy Birthday America, with love from Belgium!