A tribute to fathers: Celebrating Father’s Day overseas

Photo by Jennifer Brown
Photo by Jennifer Brown

A tribute to fathers: Celebrating Father’s Day overseas

by Jennifer Brown
Stripes Japan

Editor’s note: At Stripes Japan, we love to share your stories and share this space with our community members. Here is an article written by Jennifer Brown, a hospital corpsman at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. If you have a story or photos to share, let us know at japan@stripes.com.

 

It’s time again to celebrate fathers and their special role in our lives. Whether we have grown up with a father figure or not, taking a moment to celebrate our “fathers” plays a significantly important role for me and many others around the world. While celebrating Father’s Day in the states allows families to gather and personally celebrate fathers, celebrating overseas is a little different. Nevertheless, here is a tribute to our father figures and everything they do for us. This one is for you, dad; and thank you to all the dads and father figures out there!

In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has added quite a few changes to how we are able celebrate our fathers this year. There are many fathers carrying a tremendous amount of stress in their daily lives. In particular, they may have anxiety about making ends meet, providing for their families, and taking care of their necessities; in other words, dads this year may be struggling to simply get by! So, I want to personally thank you, dad, for sticking through this very unexpected and uncertain time. You have continued to provide and be the best you can be, and that’s all anyone can ask. In the same sense, for all the dads out there, your efforts to simply survive during these uncertain times are doing a great job; your effort is noticed and completely appreciated!

Likewise, fathers who are stationed overseas are currently dealing with quite a dramatic change in lifestyle themselves. You may have to work more than usual and have to deal with increased quarantine restrictions, along with the additional stress of worrying about the impact of the virus on your family and loved ones. In case no one has told you lately, thank you for carrying this heavy load. Moreover, thank you for doing it all while being away from those back home! What a demonstration of inner strength and perseverance!

For me, celebrating my father from afar this year is a new experience. In past years, I would always try to do something special for my dad. For example, even if I did not know exactly what my dad wanted, I tried my best to show him I appreciated him. I would sneak off to a different part of the store to hunt for the “right” gift or quickly do an online search for ideas. Instead of taking the whole day to celebrate, however, my family usually went out to eat and delegated family time that day. Nevertheless, we still tried to celebrate in our own way.

In contrast to living at home, living overseas has given me the chance to get creative with my Father’s Day celebrations. While I am not able to visit my dad or say, “Happy Father’s Day!” in person, I have a few tricks up my sleeve. For instance, I can send a Father’s Day card, video call my dad on Father’s Day in his time zone and send surprise care packages. These efforts may not sound like much, but they are simple ways to show genuine effort to celebrate him and his part in my life, no matter the barriers. 

In the same way, for those fathers who are stationed overseas with their families, I hope you find a way to celebrate you! Even if there are still restrictions in your area, there can be numerous ways to enjoy Father’s Day. For instance, if you live here in Okinawa, maybe you and your family can enjoy the beach, or go to your favorite restaurant for take-out. Similarly, maybe just hosting a movie marathon with your family may fill a need you’re longing for.

However you decide to celebrate, I hope you take the time to think about your own needs and let yourself be taken care of. You are an essential part of our lives and deserve just as much attention and care as anyone else! My hope is that any dad or father figure who reads this is reminded of how valuable and important he truly is. There is a reason we celebrate our fathers –

it's because you do so much! The very least we can do is take a day to appreciate and thank you. So, thanks, Dad, for everything! Even when we’re halfway around the world and feel worlds apart, I want you to know I appreciate you and love you! And thank you to all the dads out there, enjoy your special day.

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Jennifer Brown is a hospital corpsman at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. Originally from Florida, she joined the Navy in 2018 and has been on the island for over a year. During her free time, Brown enjoys spending time with animals, running, rock climbing, and hiking. She is an alumnus of the University of Central Florida and holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Her professional interests include social work, animal welfare, and children.

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