Lackland Air Force Base, Texas –
Independence Day means a day off, fireworks and barbecue for most Americans. However, once you or a family member dons a military uniform, the reason for celebrating July 4 resonates within as loud as the Liberty Bell must have sounded in 1776.
"It's a fun holiday but it has a much more different meaning for me now," said Airman Jason Adams who graduated from Air Force basic training at Lackland June 22. "It's really humbling but it also gives me a great sense of pride that I am actually part of something much bigger than myself and that I'm actually fighting to preserve the great things that we have."
Instead of celebrating the nation's birthday with friends and family in Ohio as he did last year, Airman Adams will be at Keesler AFB for technical training.
His mother, Lynne Adams, is also experiencing a greater sense of patriotism this July 4.
"My husband was in the military, so it's always been more relevant. But now that my son has graduated, there is definitely a deeper sense of pride in our country," said Mrs. Adams. "I am valuing any time I have with Jason knowing he may be called to serve his country overseas."
Retired Master Sgt. Richard Bryan was overseas, serving during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
"I missed my country very much when I was in Korea and Vietnam, and I wanted to be in the United States where we enjoy freedom. It was military homesickness but we did what we could," said the 75-year-old veteran.
He will celebrate this Fourth of July with a barbecue at home in Corpus Christi, surrounded by his grandchildren and wife of 47 years.
"Anybody that serves in the military for 20 something years or more has a deeper understanding of Independence Day," said retired Tech. Sgt. Charles Lennon of San Antonio. "Everyone in the military at one point or another put their life on the line and many paid the ultimate price for us."
The Fourth of July especially hits home for the families of service men and women currently deployed.
"This is a time for my son and me to not be so selfish and to let this holiday serve as a reminder of the sacrifices our military makes every day so that our country remains free," said Rachelle Sanchez, wife of Lt. Col. Andy Sanchez.
She added that it's a great opportunity for her to teach her 10-year-old son, Bobby, about patriotism and the meaning of country.
Angel Novak, 5, is also learning about our nation's birthday through her parents who both recently retired from the Air Force.
"I think they were in a war or something. They were in a war and they defeated the bad guys for us," said the kindergartner.