Independence Day

Happy 4th of July! Here in Jakarta it's already the day after. If it weren't for 2 zealous expats--one British and one from Panama--the day would have ended as it began, Just another Monday workday. As you might imagine the 4th of July isn't cause for celebration in Indonesia. But, August 17th is, and is celebrated much the same way as the 4th of July is celebrated back home: fireworks, games, picnics and parades. Americans wear and wave red-white-and blue; Indonesians wave and wear red and white. 4th of July commemorates the beginning of a war, as does August 17th. Americans fought for "Freedom", Indonesians call it "Merdeka", the cause is the same: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Celebrating holidays away from home is bittersweet. Distance makes it easy to forget...actually forget is not the right word. Distance makes it easy to ignore holidays--or try to ignore them. Maybe because it hurts a little to be away and missing out on the fun back home...

There weren't any fireworks or parades at last night's Fourth of July celebration. But there was red-white-and blue (everyone dug through their closets to pull out whatever patriotic clothing they had-a red batik shirt won the prize), there was laughter and chatter (in a variety of accents), there was music (in varying styles--we finally settled on country western as being the "most" American). Even with all that, it was the food that made the holiday. As my mother would call it "good, old fashioned American": hot dogs and burgers with buns, potato salad, cold slaw, beans and watermelon (Delsy, our Panamanian-American friend and hostess pulled me aside to ask "When do we serve the watermelon? With dinner or dessert?) Brownies and pie with ice cream-cherry, blueberry and apple, of course!  Each mouthful was a taste of home, a reminder of 4th of July's past, and promise for the future.

I woke this morning, with a feeling of having a foot in 2 time zones. It was 7 am. here in Jakarta--which is 7 pm central time. On the other side of the world, back home in the USA, Fourth of July celebrations are in full swing--sea to shining sea! I'm lamenting the extra servings I indulged in last night at the exact same moment that you might be dipping in for more. I'm putting away my red, white and blues while you're pulling yours on.

In spite of CNN news, I am also feeling hopeful. Our 4th of July celebration included 20 or so people of different races, genders, nationalities, religious and political beliefs. Festivities right now, today and tonight, include millions of people whose ancestors fought on opposite sides of battlefields with all the hatred, anger, hurt, and vengeance of the people battling today.

Happy Independence Day; Pray for Peace.