Title: 'Fourth of July Abroad' Tales (part 2)

Release Date: 2017-09-13

Document Date: 2005-07-01

Description: SIDtoday readers tell more stories about Fourth of July celebrations overseas.


(U) 'Fourth of July Abroad' Tales (part 2)
FROM: SIGINT Communications
Run Date: 07/01/2005

More tales from our worldly work force... Enjoy the holiday! (U)

Fouth of July Abroad

Bucking the Trend in Spain (U)
(U) Back in the summer of 1999 I was living in Alicante, Spain. The
conflict in Kosovo was the major news item at the time. (I wasn't
too up on TV or newspapers, but we heard a lot about it on the
streets from Spaniards.) The State Department had issued a
warning to Americans abroad regarding anti-American sentiment,
especially among Muslims. (Which I definitely had heard about.)
Spain is a country full of contradictions. They declare themselves a
democracy, but the socialist and communist parties are STRONG
throughout the country and many of their social and economic
policies go down those lines.
(U) On the 4th of July that year, inspired by recent world events,
the Communist Party of Valencia (the province where Alicante is
located) decided to organize a street rally. My American roommate
and I were walking back to our apartment, and noticed traffic was
stopped on the streets and that there was some large disturbance
up ahead. As we got closer, we saw a good sized "populacho" or
crowd/mob (almost). There was a man on the back of what looked
like a small euro-style van with a bullhorn. I used to remember the
things they were chanting, but years have blurred the memory.
They were cute little rhymes though. I remember they were along
the lines of "Die capitalist pigs" and "American imperialism [this
and that]".
(U) Prudence would have suggested taking some alternate path.
But being 20, headstrong, a patriotic little Eagle Scout, and a pair
of smart alecks, my friend and I walked up to the group. The man
on top of the van immediately recognized us as American. (Tall,
blonde etc.) He started pointing and yelling communist rhetoric.
Something about "nuestros compadres", "Yankees" (I'm a Mariners
fan!) and "la leche de la madre!" (No clue why they threw in the
reference to the milk thing, but he kept saying it!) By this time the
crowd was pretty worked up. This couple in front of us had a
banner that they had strung between two sticks but it was sagging
because they were screaming and pointing at us and we couldn't
see what it said. Being diplomatic, we asked them to stretch it out
for us, which, surprisingly they did. We both snapped pictures of
the banner that said "Die, Yankee murderers." (I still have mine.)
We walked away whistling the Star Spangled Banner. They just
kept yelling.
(U) It's one of my favorite experiences from my time in Spain.

1. 'Fourth of July
Abroad' Tales (part
2. 'Fourth of July
Abroad' Tales (part

A Grand British Fourth (U)
(U) One of the most memorable 4th of July (let's not forget that is
Independence Day) celebrations that I experienced took place at
Menwith Hill Station, Harrogate, Yorkshire, England, U.K. around
1978 through 1981. It was a Grand Brit 4th. Our British
counterparts and friends, clearance or not, were invited to the
base, and many of us swear that there were more Brits than Yanks
on hand for the festivities.
(U) The band played the Star Spangled Banner followed by God
Save the Queen -- remember the Yanks were the guests in the
U.K. There was a parade including Station staff dressed in rebel
garb from the War of Independence. This was followed by
traditional food and drink. The Brits gobbled up all the American
hot dogs and hamburgers, and quaffed Kentucky Bourbon with a
foamy Bud chaser. The Yanks managed to down a few hot dogs and
hamburgers, and quaffed single malt scotch chased with dark ale or
(U) There were toasts to George Washington and George III, along
with slightly less enthusiastic toasts to Ronald Reagan and
Margaret Thatcher. The Red Arrows, the magnificent RAF acrobatic
demonstration team, performed. If you have never seen RAF jet
fighters flying low over the Yorkshire moors with a very blue and
only slightly cloudy sky as a background, well, it takes your breath
(U) The emcee announced that several of these pilots were
veterans of the Falklands War, and they were the best of the best.
The planes put out the obligatory red, white, and blue smoke, and
they thrilled all of us, along with scaring the pants off a few
Yorkshire farmers and their sheep. All this was at the height of the
Cold War and in the midst of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan,
and during a very significant expansion programme at MHS.
(U) Both the Brits and the Yanks were feeling "very" patriotic, and
a good time was had by all the lads and the lasses. What a nice
way to spend the 4th.
The Weather Is Moderate, But the Celebrating Isn't (U)
(U) American Fourth of July celebrations in the Australian outback
are much less reserved than in the UK. The Aussies will use almost
any excuse to have a party, and two tours over 5 years in the
outback reinforce that perception. The Australians have a unique
quality to make fun out of anything.
(C) The Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap (JDFPG) invites on the
average 6 locals for each of the almost 500 Americans stationed at
the base, and believe me, there is fun to be had by all. July in
Australia is in the middle of winter, which means the daytime
temperatures are quite moderate, sometimes confining themselves
to the 80's instead of the blistering 120 degree summertime
(U) Just outside the front gate to the base is a large picnic area
where the annual independence celebration starts at about 10:00
a.m. and can go for 10 hours. The area is decked out in red, white
and blue bunting with American and Australian flags and many

speeches elaborating on the special kinship the Americans and
Aussies share as outcasts from the Georgian British Empire.
(U) I especially remember the picnic basket auctions filled with
locally unobtainable American products where some baskets would
go for more than A$100 raising a record amount of money for
charity. It seemed that 1200 hamburgers would not be enough,
and we almost doubled that one year. Picture a New York block
party, only in the desert, and that would be a pretty good
approximation of what transpires. Everyone has fun and
remembers why and how we can.

(U//FOUO) Pine Gap Facility
Patriotic in Poland (U)
(U//FOUO) There are many memorable and enjoyable experiences
that come with being associated with or attached to a U.S.
Embassy community. One of the most special of these is the
privilege of participating in the Embassy's annual 4th of July
reception. Usually hosted by the U.S. Ambassador at his or her
official residence, this event is the culmination of a year of work by
foreign service officers from the most junior to the most
experienced to secure donations from U.S. and multinational
corporations to guarantee good food and entertainment on the
day. These efforts, which sometimes begin the week after the
current year's party is over, guarantee that the event is high-class
and that invitations are highly prized by host country partners and
expat community contacts. If you ever receive an invitation to the
U.S. Embassy's official July 4th reception, don't turn it down!
(S) Our last 4th of July official Embassy reception was in 2002, just
days before we were scheduled to leave Warsaw after having spent
five years in the Defense Attaché's Office. The sun shone in a
cloudless sky, the U.S. flag fluttered high overhead, and the crowd,
dressed in civilian best and military Class A's representing a vast
range of nationalities, munched and mingled to the big band tunes
of a Polish military jazz band. Already overwhelmed with terrific
memories of our time in Poland that was about to come to an end,
the particular memory of that day will stay with me for a long time
as we celebrated our country's independence and friendships that
extend around the world. And a solemn recollection of the
tremendous outpouring of sympathy and support demonstrated by
our host country the previous September (2001) influenced the
patriotic mood of the day.
NCR Iraq Exec (from the Presidential Palace,
U.S. Embassy, Baghdad)
Around the World on the Fourth, Ending in Baghdad (U)
(U) Over the years I have celebrated the 4th of July holiday in a
number of places, and in a number of ways. Unlike most
Americans, over 20 of these holidays were spent outside of the US.
Several of these celebrations stand out vividly in my memory.
Once, as a young child, I stood in a campground clearing
overlooking Rome and joined together with other American

campers to sing a variety of patriotic songs and wave sparklers.
Throughout the evening, we shared an impromptu picnic and
songfest as campers from many countries joined us. Our American
celebration became an international party.
(U) In 1976, I was back in the States, and joined thousands of my
fellow Americans for an unforgettable 4th of July experience on The
Mall in Washington, D.C. Though I admit, my most vivid memory of
that day is of the difficulties we encountered in returning home -insufficient public transportation -- I hitch-hiked for the first (and
last) time in my life.
(U) Stationed at Stuttgart, Germany, in the mid-1980s, I sat on
bleachers, huddled in blankets for warmth in the late evening chill,
listening to a concert by the local U.S. military band. The highpoint
was the artillery blasting away during the "1812 Overture". It was
amazing (and incredibly noisy) to be that close to the "cannons".
(U) Several years later, I stood shivering in 40 degree weather
watching our local "4th of July Parade" at Menwith Hill Station, in
northern England. The fireworks that evening (late that evening -it doesn't get dark until well after 10pm) were attended by both
American and British families associated with the Station as well as
many local dignitaries wearing their chains and badges of office.
Ordered through a British company, the fireworks had a unique
twist -- pictures! I'd never seen firework pictures before (or since).
There was one of the Queen (at least I think it was supposed to be
her) and one of a tall-ship (your choice, "Boston Tea Party" or
"Trafalgar") as well as a large American flag.
(U) Fast-forward a number of years to living at Yokota Air Base
Japan. The annual fireworks display is held on the flight line. July in
Japan is hot and bright. Even hours after the sun has gone down
the flight line tarmac holds residual heat. Folks "quick walk" across
the tarmac - and head for the grassy areas. Latecomers hope that
several layers of blankets to sit on will keep them comfortable.
Once again our 4th of July has an international flavor as many
Japanese join us for the celebration. Celebrating by a flight line has
a down side - and I mean down as in leaning down. On the 5th of
July volunteers are invited to join in a "police the flight line" drill.
All the debris from partying and fireworks has to be cleared from
the runway before it can be reopened for business. The means
lining up at one end and walking to the other, filling trash bags
along the way.
(U//FOUO) As for many Americans, 4th of July for me usually
means a relaxing day -- a picnic with family and friends, relaxing
with a cool drink, fireworks in the evening - you know the drill,
sunblock and insect repellant. This year, I'll be celebrating the 4th
in Baghdad, far from family -- but with new friends. I plan on
wearing my red t-shirt with the "Stars and Stripes" on the front.
The Embassy staff does have some festivities planned -- horseshoe
contest, pool volleyball, tug of war -- but fireworks aren't listed. I
know the chefs will serve a picnic, complete with red, white and
blue decorations, beautifully decorated cakes, and Baskin Robbins
ice cream.
(U//FOUO) This 4th of July will be different. We are deployed to a
war zone. The fireworks we hear and see are the kind that end
lives, not celebrate life. For me, the 4th of July will be a time more
of reflection than of celebration. I am proud to be an American; I
am proud to be serving my Agency and my country. It's ironic that
as I write this, a controlled detonation has just been announced

over the handheld radio. While hearing explosions off in the
distance has become part of everyday life, they still profoundly
affect me. We as Americans are so fortunate in our freedoms and
in our commitment to freedom.
(U) When we celebrate the 4th of July, we are celebrating the ideas
and ideals that Congress approved in our Declaration of
Independence. Thomas Jefferson once wrote, "...for ourselves, let
the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollection of
these rights, and undiminished devotion to them."

(U) Editor's note: Many thanks to all who sent in their stories.

"(U//FOUO) SIDtoday articles may not be republished or reposted outside NSANet
without the consent of S0121 (DL sid comms)."



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