I’m sure Independence Day was eventful for everyone, but mine didn’t hold a candle to July 4, 2011.

I’m sure Independence Day was eventful for everyone, but mine didn’t hold a candle to July 4, 2011.
That holiday wasn’t memorable because of the incredible fireworks show I attended. In fact, there was no fireworks show. The people of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia are surprisingly unaffected by our nation’s Independence Day celebrations.
We boarded a flight at Bole International airport at 11:59 p.m. on July 4, 2011 to bring our new son to America. To Ethiopians, it was just the 9th day of Hamle, 2003 – Ethiopians still work on a 13-month (twelve 30-day months and one 5 or 6 day month, all of which is a national holiday) Julian calendar that is eight years behind the rest of the world.
There was no fireworks show lighting up the night sky, but there were plenty of fireworks.
If you have never flown for more than a day across eight time zones with a scared four-year old boy who can’t communicate with you, you have never seen fireworks.
The seven-hour layover in Frankfurt, Germany was full of highs and lows. It was a time of pure joy for Blake, who had eaten very little during our nine days in Ethiopia. He isn’t a fan of spicy food and he was scared he would get sick. When we wandered around the airport and found a McDonalds, it was one of the happiest times of his life.
Dawit had no idea what the Golden Arches were all about. But anytime anyone is eating anything, he wants to be included.
He became an instant fan of McNuggets and French fries. Yes, an Ethiopian ate French fries in Germany with Americans – we were like a branch office of the United Nations.
But no matter how good the food is, seven hours is hard to fill. We had toys and books and games. But when you are a four-year old boy who can’t communicate, your only outlet is activity. There was no nap in our future because Dawit slept for all but about an hour of the flight from Addis Ababa to Frankfurt. He was awake for the entire layover which made Germany less than enjoyable. But when he drifted back to sleep for almost the entire flight from Frankfurt to Houston, it almost made corralling him in the airport hallways worth it.
It doesn’t mean much to him right now, but one day Dawit will probably go back to Houston where his feet first touched American soil. Thanks to having an IR3 Visa, Dawit was a short trip through customs from becoming an American citizen.
That is a great way to celebrate Independence Day. Dawit gained his American Citizenship through adoption but it has been the defining moment of his life so far.
It is fun to pass these milestones and relive the memories and how they affected the past three years and every year to follow.
There may not have been a fireworks show on the night he left the country of his birth, but there will be this year as Dawit celebrates three years as an American citizen.

Kent  Bush is the publisher of the Butler County Times Gazette and can be reached at: kbush@butlercountytimesgazette.com