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Ron Hawkins - “Our ancestors believed in their ability to create something special and lasting. This tells you about the indomitable American spirit“


04 Jul, 2015 00:00 1830 Marime text

Ron Hawkins is the Counselor for Public Diplomacy at the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest.  He has previously served in Algeria, Iceland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sudan, and Washington, DC. He is a graduate of American University in Washington DC from which he received both a Bachelors and Masters in International Relations.  He has studied French, Bosnian and Romanian, as well as to a lesser degree Latin, German and Icelandic.  He previously briefly visited Romania a few years back and wished to return for a longer stay with the U.S. Embassy.  He hails from Maryland, near the state’s capital of Annapolis, which is located at the mouth of the Severn River as it empties into the beautiful Chesapeake Bay.  He enjoys history and is delighted to be in a country so full of historical sites and natural beauty.

4th of July is a solemn day dedicated to the freedom of speech and religion, to the observance of fundamental rights of each individual.  What are Americans in the U.S. doing on this day and how do those who are away from home celebrate?

Indeed, July 4th, our Independence Day, is a solemn occasion, as well as a joyous one.  We honor our forbearers who envisioned our republic and those that fought for its independence.  These same forbears crafted our founding documents enshrining our freedoms, such as expression and religion, and these documents continue to govern today.  Our Constitution has only been amended a few times relatively considering our history of 239 years. What this means is that many of the values Americans espoused then, such as freedoms for the individual and the rule of law, continue to be just as important today as they were over two centuries ago.

To mark this occasion, Americans all over the United States will attend backyard cookouts, parades, and summer parties.  They will be clad in red, white, and blue, and U.S. flags will be displayed proudly in multitude across the land.  Many will come together when the sun goes down to witness colorful spectacles in the sky in the form of fireworks, some accompanied by music from great American composers, such as John Philip Sousa, but others to just the tune of their own imagination inspired by their love of country.  And yes, a few tears will be shed remembering those who are serving their beloved nation overseas or who have given their lives for the ideals America champions: democracy, freedom and peace.

As like others stationed abroad at U.S. Embassies and Consulates, the official Americans in Bucharest will gather on the lawn of the Embassy to share this celebratory feeling with our invited Romanian friends and colleagues and to pay tribute to the principles and values we commonly hold dear.

Being away from home, what do you miss? What do other Americans miss?

On July 4th, when overseas I do miss the backyard cookouts the most and being with family and friends, laughing and reminiscing, and just being together. I bet my fellow Americans would agree. But there is nothing so stirring to me as hearing our national anthem when overseas. There is something so powerful in that melodious reminder, that I humbly serve America abroad.

Please tell us more about the significance of July 4th and the traditions linked to this celebration.

I wrote a bit about this earlier, but let me just add that this is a major celebration in America.  It is our birthday; it is a day, that 239 years ago, many stood up for what they believed in and took a tremendous risk with their own lives.  And it also was a day when people stood up because they believed in themselves.  There were many critics, who said these fledging 13 colonies were too disorganized and could never amount to anything.  But our ancestors thought differently and believed in their ability to create something new, something special, and something lasting.  This tells you about the indomitable American spirit.

How do Romanians perceive and look at American celebrations, especially the Independence Day? What feedback do you have to the celebrations organized over the years in Romania?

I hope our Romanian friends will join in and celebrate alongside us.  For this too is a celebration of democracy and of freedom!

What type of foods do Americans prefer for the 4th of July?  

We love, hot dogs, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken and all kinds of things, such as cole slaw and potato salad.  This varies person to person, family to family, and region by region.  For example, many in my home state of Maryland will have crab feasts.

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