Many Americans will not be home to celebrate their July 4th holiday. Some are traveling or working abroad. Others reside in different countries. Many are in the armed forces and voluntarily spend their holiday fighting and dying for the country they believe in.
On July the 4th, their friends and families back home in the USA gather together. A grill is fired up. The smell of charcoal filters throughout their old neighborhoods. Their families gather to laugh; grandfathers toss baseballs to grandsons; fathers tend to burning meat; and later, everyone stands under a dark sky to admire the fireworks that explode over their heads. At the end of the day, they walk hand-in-hand on their way home after a day of love and celebration.
Those who aren’t home feel lonely. They don’t have a day off from work. It’s business as usual where they are. There’s no one to wish them a happy July 4th.
I know how they feel. On July the 1st—Canada Day, the Canadian equivalent of July the 4th—I walked through our Lexington Ave. office in Manhattan. I wished everyone I passed a happy Canada Day. Most people had heard of it, but they had no idea how important a day it is for their neighboring country. They didn’t know Canada celebrated just as the USA does for Independence Day.
I felt lonely. I was working on a holiday I hold dear. I had no one to celebrate with. Back in my home country, the party was on. They celebrated. I worked.
The work day came to a close. I dropped beneath the concrete jungle and followed the crowds to the “E” train of the New York subway system. Beneath the streets, the platforms were hot and crowded. An “E” train came. It was packed. I waited for the next one. I pulled my handkerchief from my pocket and wiped the sweat from my forehead and neck. Another “E” came five minutes later. It was less crowded. I hopped on.