In many countries outside the United States, July 4 appears indistinguishable from any other day. There are a few countries that mark national celebrations on or near this day: Canada has its celebration of what amounts to its effective separation from Britain on July 1, and Belarus celebrates its “independence” from Nazi Germany on July 3 (the day in 1945 when the Soviet Army evicted the Wehrmacht from Minsk). In Poland, July 4 is merely the day that follows July 3, and comes before July 5. Still, I try to remember the day, anyway.
This year, though, the day would prove to be eventful, and not in a way I would have wanted it to be. As I recall it, my wife had suggested that we take the kids for a walk to explore areas of our neighborhood she wasn’t that familiar with, specifically the little park near the Orla tram stop. It’s not a particularly scenic spot in southern Wroclaw, but it isn’t that bad of a place to set a destination. But before we went, I had wanted to get the kids together to send off Independence Day greetings to their grandparents in the States.
When I got to the computer, I saw that my mother had beaten me to the punch. She had sent a greeting already, but then a few minutes later, she had sent a second message that I should call her. I thought nothing of this, figuring that she wanted to see her grandkids. So, we all got together and made a Skype call to her.
When we got through, my mother answered. We blurted out our Happy Independence Day greeting before I noticed that she was barely holding herself together. She smiled and wished my wife and kids and I the same, but then asked if she could speak with me alone. Marina immediately herded the kids to the bedroom to give us some privacy.