As I write this it is nearly time here in Thailand for our Fourth of July picnic to begin. The trainees have begun to come back from their travels for Election Sunday, and the first school holiday is upon us. Since we are a farang institution here in Thailand, we have off for the Fourth of July while it is just another Monday to the people here in Thailand.
How does one remember and instruct others on the importance of Fourth of July in a foreign land? Well, at Legacy we make it a school holiday (that help) and hold a yearly picnic at the farm. The students, by and large, greatly enjoy the Western food (particularly hamburgers, French fries, and ice cream) that we cook up on the grill, and we have some speeches (from the trainees) about their own backgrounds and goals. We also have some fireworks planned to go off in the evening–one of them resembling a mortar cannon, and the other which jumps several feet in the air after it is lit. All in all, it looks exciting.
After all, for those of us from America, it is nice to remember home and our nation’s birthday, even when we are in a foreign land. This is at least the second (and maybe third) fourth of July I have spent outside of the United States myself. The first one (which I am not sure about) was in 1998 when I spent most of July in England at a summer camp in what amounted to an unintentional underground role as a United Church of God member at a Hulme summer camp. For some reason it has long been my destiny to be behind enemy lines deep in hostile territory when it came to church politics, and politics of other kinds, to be sure. In 2000 I spent July in Ghana, which was undergoing election fever, and I don’t remember what I did for the fourth of July then. I can’t remember the ministers in charge of that United Youth Corps project being particularly patriotic. And now we have a picnic and fireworks here in Thailand.
Let us hope that something about freedom and its costs is remembered when we shoot off fireworks and enjoy our hamburgers. I often wonder if the more important parts of the Fourth of July (namely the Declaration of Independence and its implications) are forgotten even by those of us in the United States who should be passing on the torch of liberty to following generations. We cannot remain long free if we only think of gluttony and pyromania when it comes to days like this, and not about the ferocious struggle for liberty that our fathers fought over two and a quarter centuries ago.