Like many military spouses, my family was given the opportunity to serve overseas. For the past three years, we have lived in the French-speaking part of Belgium, about 150 miles from Paris. My children, now 8 and 9, have some faded Fourth of July recollections of observing the California sky boom and flash from the tailgate of Grandpa’s truck, fully-loaded hotdog in one hand and a sparkler in the other. In recent years however, their Fourth of July hotdogs have consisted of a 5-inch baguette containing pale French boudin blanc sausage with a side of mustard. No ketchup here!
I know, I know. Independence Day is about much more than the holiday’s customary trappings. I give my kids the same speech, and I mean it. But full disclosure, those trappings give the celebration its color and life for me and imbue it with a sense of continuum. My sister and I used to draw our names in the air with sparklers, and so I miss buying them for my kids. Founding Father John Adams has my back on this—he wished anniversaries of American independence would be forever boisterously celebrated with “illuminations” and “bonfires.”
Hot dogs aside, once you experience a few Independence Days across the pond, a broader view of the holiday comes into focus. On a walk through Paris, you might pass a square named after Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of America’s Declaration of Independence, whose work heavily influenced France’s similar document in 1789. Rue de Tocqueville celebrates the consummate French observer of America, who attended an Independence Day reading of the U.S. Declaration and recalled, “It was as though an electric current moved through the hearts of everyone there.” Benjamin Franklin, the Declaration signer who charmed Paris in his day with inventions and philosophy, also has a namesake street.
So, I’ve learned to appreciate Independence Day in new ways while living abroad. There may not be fireworks, but there will be a socially distant barbeque with my military friends. We’ll be back in the U.S. for Independence Day 2021, so save me some ketchup and sparklers. Please.
About the Author
As the Senior Manager of Strategic Partnerships for the Adecco Group US Foundation, Rachelle is passionate about helping military spouses and veterans succeed in the workforce. She is equally inspired by the the Team USA athletes her team supports through one on one career coaching.
Rachelle joined Adecco, the global leader in workforce solutions, as a recruiter in February 2005. Following positions of increasing responsibility within the Government Relations team, Rachelle served as Adecco’s Government Relations Manager from the Fall of 2007-Spring 2010. Tracking political issues of importance to the workforce industry, she conducted research and analysis on employment trends in each congressional district and engaged policy makers on Capitol Hill.
Rachelle now serves as the Senior Manager for Strategic Partnerships and is the Military Liaison for Adecco Group. One of the specialty recruitment programs that fall under her leadership is the military spouse and veteran recruitment program, Adecco Group Military Alliance. Rachelle liaises with Adecco branches and military installations around the country, serving as Adecco’s national representative to the military and numerous military affiliate organizations and partnerships.
She’s also the Adecco Group US manager for the Athlete Career and Education Program, a program designed to provide Team USA athletes with career counseling, job placement assistance and employment opportunities. Adecco is an official sponsor of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee and partners with the USOPC to facilitate the ACE program.