7/3/12 — In a few days, we, as Americans, will celebrate one of the most, if not the most, important date for the U.S. — our Independence Day.
As I figure out what I’ll be doing this Fourth of July, I also want to make sure I take the time to reflect on this most reverent of days.
What does Independence Day represent to me?
I mean, we’ve all been taught in school what led to our independence and how we achieved it, but what does it really stand for?
For me, Independence Day is more than just a day America gained its freedom. I learned from my Grandpa Randall, who loved to research our family heritage, that my family is deeply rooted in American soil.
The Randall side of the family emigrated from England on one of the first boats to the U.S. Our family is related to President Ulysses S. Grant, and one of our ancestors fought alongside President George Washington in Valley Forge. My family settled and fought for America’s independence, and for me, it’s pretty inspiring to know I have those roots.
However, that’s the beauty of being an American. It doesn’t matter if your roots are 236 years old or just a few days, we can all take pride in America and celebrate its independence.
One of the main reasons I joined the Air Force was to follow in my father’s footsteps and serve my country — to earn my place next to those who have served before.
While it’s not always fun or easy being in the military, I enjoy living the Air Force way of life. It’s truly amazing to know I’m a part of something bigger than myself.
For those times when life seems difficult, I think on my family and friends. Those are the people who get me through the hard days. Those are the faces I brought to mind while downrange recently. Those are the people whose lives I personally protect while in service to America, so that July 4th will always remain their Independence Day.
This Independence Day, I want to remember those who paid the sacrifice for America to gain her freedom. While we enjoy the company of our family and friends this Fourth of July, we should remember our nation was built on blood, sweat and tears.
Blood: The blood of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for America’s freedom, such as Army Private 1st Class James Arnold, who was killed in the Vietnam War. Though I didn’t personally know Arnold, as I reflect on the reason his name is on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., I am truly grateful and indebted to him for his sacrifice to this great country.
Sweat: The sweat of those who have worked hard to make America what it is today, such as the immigrants who toiled and labored to become citizens, or the settlers who moved west to create a life for themselves.
Tears: The tears of those who mourn for the ones lost to gain America’s freedom, such as the family of Capt. Francis Imlay, who recently paid the ultimate price during Operation Enduring Freedom. Again, I didn’t know Imlay, but I sympathize with his family and the families of the more than 6,000 military members who have died during Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn. I am thankful for all they gave to help keep America free.
So, enjoy the fireworks, enjoy the food, enjoy the company, but also remember to enjoy the independence and freedom we have and take the time to reflect on what those two words mean to you.
On this Independence Day, remember we have freedom at its finest, but not without a price.
Photo: The American Flag is flown over Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 9, 2011. The flag represents America’s freedom and the many military members who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for U.S. independence. Americans will celebrate 236 years of freedom July 4, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Staff Sgt. Amanda Dick)