Independence Day.   No, not the movie. What comes to mind? Backyard cookouts, picnics, family get-togethers, community parades and more. What’s the biggest anticipation of the day? FIREWORKS!   Absolutely! Whether at home, at a ballgame, concert or community gathering, that’s where the excitement is. If there’s a musical track to go with them, wow – even better.

Have you even wondered if people in other parts of the world mark their important milestone dates the same way we do? Let’s take a gander . . . .

Belize has been independent from Great Britain since 1981, and its citizens celebrate in the month of September. There are a variety of events to enjoy – a Queen of the Bay beauty pageant, a citizen’s parade, and a carnival of costumes and dancing reminiscent of the Mestizo and Maya heritage.

India also celebrates their independence from Great Britain on August 15.   They fly kites, share music, and hold parades.   The Prime Minister speaks from the Red Fort, a historic site built in the 17th century where emperors were exiled during Britain’s role. Kites play a role in many parts of the world – the sky is filled with colorful shapes of all sorts. It can become quite competitive.

South Korea was liberated from Japan in 1945. Citizens fly flags from their homes and museums are open free-of-charge to descendants of those who contributed to the nation’s independence. Forget the kites; special prison pardons are given out.

Chile celebrates on September 18, and their national parties can last for weeks.   They share not only food and music but hold their National Rodeo finals and celebrate with kites galore, all around the cities and countryside.

The Netherlands has a two-day celebration marking the end of Nazi occupation in 1945. On May 4, the country honors their war dead from their history, and on May 5, freedom is celebrated with festivals and musical events.

Israel recognizes its 1948 declaration of independence on May 14. On May 13, there is a ceremony at Mount Herzi, a speech from the Speaker of the Israeli Parliament, and a ceremonial lighting of twelve torches to represent the tribes of Israel. On May 14, families spend time together.

France celebrates Bastille Day, the beginning of the French Revolution, each year on July 14. Similar to our July 4th, fireworks, parades, and lots of patriotic events make the day special. Red, white and blue is everywhere. Firefighters in Paris hold a Fireman’s Ball at their local station houses on July 13-14.

Mexico remembers its independence from Spain on September 15. Each year at 11:00 pm the president of Mexico goes to the National Palace and rings a bell, shouting ‘Viva Mexico’ from the balcony to the 500,000+ gathered in the plaza below. Festivals, parades and marching bands join in all over the country.

Canada celebrates Canada Day on July 1. Activities range from fireworks (sound familiar?), carnivals and parades, to aerial shows by the Canadian Snowbirds.

Each nation has its unique ways to acknowledge the freedoms they enjoy. The overall theme is togetherness, joy, remembrance of the cost of independence, and patriotism. It’s easy to have tunnel vision that we are the most patriotic nation. Our heritage is pieces and parts of all the other nations in this beautiful, bountiful melting pot we call home. America is special. Celebrate freedom! God bless America – our home, sweet home.