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What does Independence Day mean to us?

To veterans, the loved ones of the fallen, current service members and their families, it is Independence Day.

On July Fourth, we celebrate the country and the independence they and their loved ones were willing to sacrifice their lives for their country.

Independence Day or the Fourth of July is commonly associated with the military due to the military guns and cannons often fired on this day, Independence Day is not military affiliated. The shots often heard are guns saluted to represent the original thirteen founding colonies.

The United States actually declared independence from Great Britain. More importantly, July 4, 1776, is the day the Declaration of Independence was signed. Most people commemorate this fateful moment with a nice, wholesome family gathering. Dads work the barbecue while telling awful jokes while the moms attempt to make sure the kids don’t hurt each other with the sparklers. The evenings are capped off by watching the fireworks explode in their backyard.

I think we should all show our appreciation for all our military and veteran service members. As we reflect on this important national holiday, we are grateful to all, past and present, who have played a role in protecting our country and our freedoms.

Our seven branches of military (Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard and National Guard) represent nearly three million service members and civilians who support this mission. They protect us from direct threats on American soil, as well as helping to maintain peace, stability, and human rights over the world. This role is critical to preserving for Americans of all ages and backgrounds life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, just as the United States Declaration of Independence promised.

To me, the Fourth of July inspires pride in the USA, and in those who have served to protect it. It may be filled with flags, fireworks, and food, but we all know that the true meaning of this special holiday lies not with how we celebrate the day, but who we are honoring. This day marks our independence and is the perfect time to remember the freedoms we are afforded here.

As a celebration of our country’s birth, we can look back and praise those who fought so valiantly to create the nation and all it stands for. It is also a good idea and a good occasion to honor those who have served to protect the American way of life in the nearly 250 years since the Declaration of Independence in 1776. After all, our servicemen and servicewomen have worked tirelessly to support and defend it.

If you want to do something different and make someone’s day, I have some great ideas below. Honor our military. Celebrating our freedom never gets old and we are fortunate to know so many veterans who have sacrificed to fight for that freedom. As we finalize plans to celebrate with friends and family at BBQs, pool parties, and fireworks displays, I also encourage you to celebrate by honoring those who have spent their lives serving our country.

Pick up some cards

Pick up a set of pre-designed “Thank You” cards, preferably with a patriotic theme on them. Write out what you are thankful for and add an encouraging note to lift up our service men and women. When you are out this holiday, give the note to men or women in uniform or those wearing clothing signifying past military service. This little gesture will go a long way.

Visit the memorial of a loved one

We all have had grandparents or relatives who have served in the armed forces. Some may have given their life on the battlefield and others may have passed on afterward. Honor their life and service with a flag and flowers at their gravesite.

Hire a veteran

If you own a business, why not hire service men and women to fill open positions. When I owned businesses in the past, I hired veterans. I looked for three things in people. Attitude, aptitude, and work ethics. I will tell you that veterans have these traits and more.

Remember veteran families

Whether your loved ones are still serving or not, our military families sacrifice much also. Give them a word of encouragement. Thank them for the sacrifices they have made and listen to them talk about their loved ones. Letting them know you care can help them lift a heavy burden.

Be courteous to combat veterans

Many of our returning veterans suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Although they may have once enjoyed fireworks and other pyrotechnics, those sites and sounds are now stress inducing. Help them get through this.

Visit a retired veteran

There are many men and women who served their country decades ago. Let’s not forget these service men and women who could use a little company. Visit your local nursing home, senior center, elderly neighbor, or family member. Take the time to sit and listen to their wisdom and valuable life experiences.

I hope you enjoyed this. I am grateful to be an American and honor all Veterans. Have a great holiday.

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Royal D. Goodman is a Vietnam veteran with the U.S. Army, 1st calvary, 9th infantry.


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