The date was July 4, 1980, and I was stationed at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. It was the first time I had ever spent Independence Day anywhere other than the good old US of A. All of the barracks residents gathered atop the barracks, complete with a grill, good food, everyone’s favorite beverage, with music blaring from a friend’s stereo. From our vantage point, we were able to watch the fireworks display provided by the military. A great evening was had by all.
You should know two things. First, Okinawa is several hours ahead of the US, which meant that when we were celebrating the “fourth,” it was actually the “third" back here at home. Now given that fact, we GI’s took advantage of an excuse to have another party on the barracks roof the following day as well. Secondly, July fifth just happened to be a special holiday on Okinawa that involved, you guessed it, fireworks. Again, with our vantage point atop the barracks, we were provided with another amazing fireworks display provided by the government of Okinawa. This was not only the first and only time I ever celebrated the fourth outside the continental US, but I did it two days in a row, complete with light shows.
However, this was during a time of peace for our nation. The only war was the Cold War. Though we were the front line of defense against the then USSR, there was no conflict—no bombs, nobody shooting at each other. The fireworks had entertainment value only.
This Independence Day, I will pause, as I hope and know you will as well, and remember those patriotic citizens who will be spending this holiday on foreign soil. All of them are far from cookouts, baseball, Mom or apple pie. Many will be living in makeshift barracks, eating in a mess hall or MREs, and the fireworks may be live ammunition. While we celebrate, they will be standing guard. While we gather with family, they will huddle in a foxhole. Let us not forget to think of them this holiday weekend.
We are also reminded of the men and women who for more than 230 years have been defending our shores from invading forces. We remember that cold winter at Valley Forge, and the brave men who signed the Declaration of Independence that began our fight for freedom. May we never forget their sacrifice, and may we pray for the coming day when swords will be beaten into plowshares, and spears into pruning hooks. One day, there will be no more wars, no more terror, and no more violence. There will be peace; a peace that Christ will bring, a peace that will never end.
It is the prayer of the Channell family that each of you will have a joyful and safe 4th of July. May the peace of Christ rule in your hearts always. May God bless each of you! May God bless our military personnel and their families! May God bless America!