Each year when the 4th of July comes around, I think back to the many memories I have growing up. Mostly they include parades and fireworks and BBQs. I never had any family or friends serve until my best friend’s brother (who also took me to my senior prom) was deployed to Afghanistan. That year, Independence Day took on a whole new meaning. I knew someone who was fighting for our country. Someone who was away from their family and friends in a foreign country. It was humbling. It was scary. It made me think of all the other men and women who were also away from their families doing the same thing as my friend was.
Since high school, I’ve had other friends who have enlisted in the military. One in the Air Force. Another in the Army. A friend’s husband who is in the Navy. Each of these people have given freely of themselves in some way. They have sacrificed time with their family, missed out on important events, moved from place to place, postponed their education and the list goes on.
This last Saturday I attended the Stadium of Fire event at the LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, UT. While there, we watched skydivers, saw fighter jets fly over and cheered for the dancers. We listened to the national anthem with our hand over our heart and recited the pledge of allegiance. Afterwards, we enjoyed an amazing concert by Tim McGraw.
We also heard the story of a Marine who had been captured in Iran and sent to be imprisoned for 10 years. At last years event, his story was shared and the host (Montel Williams) pleaded with everyone to pray for the release of this Marine and to bring him home. It was his hope that he would be freed from prison and able to come to this years show with his family. Then, the audience began cheering loudly and clapping because this same Marine walked onto the stage. He had been freed from prison and allowed to return to his home, his country and his family. With emotion, he expressed his love and gratitude for his freedom, his country and the prayers he felt on his behalf while in prison. I know I was not the only one there with tears in their eyes. It was a beautiful and touching story.
The reason I love the 4th of July is because we are reminded in that there are men and women we don’t know, have never met, and never will meet, who love our country and the freedoms we enjoy to the point that they are willing to protect them, to fight and sometimes even put down their own lives for ours.
I love this country. I love our freedoms. I love singing the national anthem and putting my hand over my heart as I look at the flag and recite the pledge of allegiance. We truly live in a beautiful land of liberty.
I hope you have a wonderful Independence Day!