Independence Day in a Box: Celebrating Mid-PCS

fireworks display
(Erick Requadt/DVIDS)

It’s almost America’s birthday! Time to fire up the grill, light some fireworks and enjoy a hot summer’s night with good friends ... oh, wait. You’ll be smack-dab in the middle of a cross-country PCS on Independence Day. Yep, the military has other plans (what else is new, right?).

But, wait, you can still celebrate July 4th in style, even as you trek across state lines -- or even across continents. What else are military families if not resourceful in the face of altered traditions?

Find a good burger/barbecue/hot dog joint.

What good is a smartphone if you can’t use it to help you find the best cuisine in a 20-mile radius of your location? Between Yelp, Zomato and dozens of the other available restaurant apps, you can find delectable 4th of July fare no matter where you are.

No good grub in sight? Find a grocery store and pick up some pre-formed patties, buns, a bag of chips and a small bag of charcoal, then locate a park with a public grill. A little foil, some paper plates and you’re in business. Nothing better than a family dinner in the back of the SUV with the trunk open.

Find a fireworks display.

There’s no excuse for missing out on a spectacular fireworks show if you’re traveling in the States because there is a celebration in just about every town across the country with a population over 50 people. Simply figure out what city you’re going to be closest to on July 4th, and search the internet for “[city name] firework display.”

If you find yourself literally in the middle of nowhere without a show, then small, safe fireworks can be used in a pinch, like sparklers. They may not make the massive color explosions like the big fireworks, but they still give the day a touch of tradition and celebration and look great in pictures.

Plan to visit friends or family for the day.

If you know in advance you’re going to be traveling over the holiday, see if you can factor in a side trip to hang with relatives or friends. Maybe a fellow military spouse has been begging you to come to see them at their new base, which just so happens to be on the way to your new duty station. It sounds like a great time to catch up and make some memories.

When all else fails, celebrate your own way.

So, maybe you found the only city in all of America that doesn’t have a fireworks display or ended up eating Taco Bell instead of burgers hot from the grill. It doesn’t matter! Just like the year you used a daybed as a couch when you were first married, you’ll remember this holiday as the time you ate soft tacos while watching Jaws and Independence Day from a hotel room on the way to the next military adventure.

Military families can’t always choose where and how they’ll celebrate holidays, but they can make the most of whatever the service throws their way.

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