Most U.S. Independence Day celebrations are held with family and friends—close to home with fireworks in a local park or a cookout in the back yard. But celebrating the Fourth of July in a foreign country brings out a whole different set of emotions.
Throughout my time at Southwest, I've had the chance to take advantage of our non-rev privileges, and as a result have found myself in another country on July 4 more than once. Many holidays are celebrated 'round the world—but Independence Day, our Independence Day, or really any country's independence day, is something that's a source of pride for those that share a common bond.
Sometimes there will be a celebration at the U.S. Embassy, sometimes groups of ex-pats will meet up at a local bar, in a home, or at a church. No matter the location, there's a common background, and there’s a sense of shared pride to see a bit of red, white, and blue—even if the colors of the stars and stripes are all that unites us.
One year, I was in Greece for July 4, but just a few days earlier, on July 1, we'd been invited to celebrate with a table of Canadians. Our neighbors to the north were celebrating their own Independence Day (Canada Day)—and sharing that joy with everyone in the restaurant. It was cool to witness how their patriotism and allegiance spilled over to those around them!
No matter the place or the country, it's a great experience to realize that shared freedom is a unifying, common denominator. It was powerful for me to realize that when I find someone who has taken the same pledge, sung the same anthem, or honored a familiar symbol, then we had a connection—no matter the place.
I feel that way about Southwest Airlines too—to unexpectedly find a Fellow Employee outside of the airport and airplane walls is like finding family. So this year, give a special honor to the Symbols of Freedom that are all around you. Whether they’re symbols of our Country or our Company, they have a way of bringing us together—no matter where we are.