Merdeka | Freedom

Independence Day is a proud day for any country. The day where we celebrate our national pride & freedom. We remember the lives lost to secure this freedom. And we have traditions, songs, and activities surrounding the celebrating.

In America, the 4th of July, I remember always going to a parade in the morning. I’d pick out my red, white and blue and go stand in the blazing sun to watch floats and bands and local important people walk by, wave and hopefully throw candy. Following the parade, my family would usually host a cookout at our place. We had the swimming. Family and friends would bring hamburgers & hot dogs, potato salad, watermelon and various American flag desserts. We’d end the day by setting off fireworks, or even driving to a spot in town to watch “the big ones”. The 4th of July feels like summer and feels like home.

Last month, we celebrated the 4th with a version of our own party which I blogged already. This month however was Indonesian Independence Day! August 17 is the day that Indonesians celebrate their freedom and cries of Merdeka! [Freedom!] be heard all around.

A little Indonesian history lesson [in case you forgot, or like me, never knew]. Indonesia has only been an independent nation for 70 years. 70 years!? My [living] grandparents are older than this country. Wild. Indonesia has evidence of civilization stretching quite far back, and came onto the radar of the Europeans in the 1500’s as merchants began discovering new exotic spices & goods to trade with the Far East.

Indonesia had hotly coveted resources, such as spices, cloves, nutmeg, and sugar. Indonesia was colonized by European powers for about 450 years.  In 1602, Indonesia was colonized by the Dutch, which named the vast archipelago the Dutch East Indies. The Indonesian people lived for centuries under imperialism and foreign leadership.

During the Second World War, Japan occupied Indonesia from 1942 to 1945 and controlled the trade and government of the archipelago and removed Dutch control during the war. The changing leadership allowed for national groups who resented Dutch imperialism to form and grow. After World War II, Indonesia announced it’s independence and fought a bloody revolution with the Dutch to keep it.

In 1945, Sukarno was declared President and he established the Republic of the United States of Indonesia. The Dutch finally recognized their loss and liberated Indonesia from the colonial control in 1949, when Queen Juliana of Netherlands proclaimed that Indonesia was free of Dutch rule.

Now, in 2015, we celebrate with Indonesia their 70 years of freedom. And how did we celebrate? Well, with friends and absurd games, naturally.