This Fourth of July, thousands of Foreign Service officers will spend the holiday overseas, representing the United States in countries all over the world. We sometimes forget, however, that these diplomats are not the only ones celebrating Independence Day far away from home -- their families are right there with them.
There are thousands of school-aged dependents of Department of State employees currently living overseas, and the Fourth of July holiday is a day that these children take a break from learning daily life lessons about a foreign culture to celebrate their own country’s history and what it means to be American. Embassies and consulates throw Independence Day parties for the mission families, giving the American kids a chance to eat hot dogs, participate in fun runs and even watch fireworks -- all like they would do in a small town in the United States.
As the daughter of a Foreign Service officer, I loved celebrating the Fourth of July overseas with the embassy community. When I once complained to my mother that I didn't have a hometown in the United States where I knew everyone and felt perfectly at ease, my mother, herself from a small town in Michigan, made the excellent point that I was from a small American hometown: our embassy. In many ways, running around the Independence Day picnic for embassy families was a yearly visit to small town America.
Secretary of State John Kerry was a Foreign Service kid himself, so he knows firsthand what it is like to grow up in a country and culture not your own. As he visits our embassies around the world, the Secretary meets with the staff and families at our missions and has made a point to bring the children of staff up to the stage with him, so that they can be thanked for the sacrifices they make so their parents can work for our country.
To all those little patriots who support their parents' service: happy Fourth of July, wherever your hometown may be.