It’s not that I’m not patriotic or anything (ok, maybe I’m just not), but I honestly thought I’d make it through two time zones’ worth of Independence Day without having to chime in about it. Of course, the fourth of July is the birthday of my home nation, and due to 70% of American military personnel in Japan living on bases in Okinawa, even whilst living abroad I happen to be in the one part of the country where local citizens might be exposed to the holiday’s shenanigans (ie fireworks, BBQs, drunk white people on the beach). Nevertheless, the little to no interaction I have with Americans in Japan that aren’t English teachers like myself and my integration into the Japanese work and calendar year had me thoroughly convinced that I would feel neither the slightest pang of ex-pat nostalgia nor need to celebrate the holiday during this weekend, yesterday or today. It’s just kind of irrelevant, you know?
And then I remembered this video a bunch of teenagers living on an American base in Okinawa made last year. The song is none other than the most favorite guilty pleasure of us all, Miley Cyrus’ Party in the USA (don’t even pretend you don’t get down to it!), and it was filmed at a few well-known locations (particularly to foreigners) around the main island of Okinawa. Funny how re-watching this of all things struck a particular chord in my heart for good ol’ Lady Liberty. In a lot of ways, the American military and their families are in their own bubble here in Okinawa, even when the do venture outside of the bases. So I don’t think it’s too far from the truth that these kids are, literally, partying it up in their own little slice of American Pie, thousands of miles away in Asia. Still, I kind of love what they did with this video. Whether anyone likes it or not, America is alive and well in Japan… and I am a part of it.
Happy 4th of July from Okinawa!