Growing up, the Fourth of July was a fun holiday in my family. We would usually spend the day at the lake, cooking out, swimming, and swirling sparklers while we watched fireworks over the water. It wasn’t until I married a Soldier that this holiday – and so many others – evoked a different kind of emotion in me.
My first Independence Day away from my home country was spent at a Korean-American Rodeo in South Korea, where my Soldier was stationed. As I listened to the beginning bars of the Star Spangled Banner, I developed a lump in my throat and was moved to tears watching our flag fly, whipping in the wind. It was a special reminder to me of the many freedoms and privileges we have as Americans and a moment I will never forget.
In today’s military, Families have grown accustomed to living on foreign soil, enduring long separations from loved ones, and celebrating various life milestones alone or via email, video teleconference, or telephone. Sending a deployed parent a summary of significant events by letter or photo is commonplace and military kids are learning how to cope with a parent deployed. When a patriotic celebration occurs, it is all that much more significant in the hearts of these who currently serve.
I think, too, of the Families who have lost their service member in our ongoing fight for freedom. Gold Star Families – those who have lost a service member – are especially poignant in my mind on this day of celebrating the very freedoms they died to secure. These are today’s true heroes … and have given so much for a country that will remain eternally grateful.
So as I head to Fort Hood’s Freedom Fest this 4th of July – decked out in red, white, and blue and bringing with me all the family and friends I can gather – I will remember all those who have gone before us to make this day possible, and precious, in the heart of every American. Happy Independence Day!
Join the USO in celebration our Nation’s Patriotic Six™
Celebrate the Patriotic Six, the six weeks beginning with Memorial Day, running through Flag Day, culminating in Independence Day.