Recently I have been writing columns on holidays such as Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and even Flag Day.
Since we will celebrate 4th of July this coming Friday, it is only fitting I continue the trend one more time.
The 4th of July is obviously a special day to the American people to say the least. It certainly has been significant to me. In my lifetime I was literally out of the country parts of six different years when our country celebrated our freedom.
Signed into law July 4th, 1776, the Declaration of Independence states in part:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
We now celebrate 4th of July by remembering those words and never forget how we started and how we honor our country.
The first time I was away was in 1970 when I spent 4th of July in Phu Bai Vietnam. We even had fireworks, although our type of fireworks were of the literal bombs bursting in air as we took incoming rounds that particular day. Memorable to say the least.
The following year in 1971, I spent time that particular day with my fellow soldiers who were stationed with me in Augsburg, Germany assigned to the 1st AG Admin Company with the Big Red One. That one was more pleasurable since we took the train that evening to the historical Hofbrauhaus in Munich where soldiers on their off time hung out to celebrate all kinds of festivities.
In 1973 while backpacking Europe with some fellow international backpackers I found myself on the road 4th of July but ended up in Pamplona, Spain in time for the running of the Bulls a week later. Their 10 day celebration made up for the missed holiday. While in the town square the night before the official running I was standing with my friends while a band was playing in the large gazebo directly in front of us.
They were playing and singing “Black Magic Woman,” and “Oye Como Va!” To my surprise it was Carlos Santana and his band playing. I freaked as my friends asked me who he was since they hadn’t heard of him. Joyfully I informed them.
Fast forward to 1980 when I was backpacking Europe and Israel and Egypt once again for a couple of months. As luck would have it, I was literally floating down the Nile in Egypt on the 4th of July. That was a unique way to celebrate the 4th.
In 1984 I was also in Paris for six weeks trying to learn French which overlapped the 4th. That one turned out to be very quiet and shared with a couple of fellow American students as we toasted our country’s birthday.
The last time I was not in the United States for the 4th of July was when I was on an Evangelical Missionary trip to Central America to include Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I celebrated with American Missionaries in San Jose, Costa Rica that year in 1987.
With the 4th imminent, let us not forget how far we have come and hopefully know where we are going. Have a safe and Happy 4th of July.
And as always, I write “Just a Thought.”
Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran, former Journalist and Justice of the Peace.